What happens if police arrive at the scene?
When officers respond to a call they will investigate the incident. Tell the officers what happened, if the offender used or threatened to use any weapons or dangerous instruments, and show any injuries or other evidence of abuse. If there is a history of abuse or a protective order, let the officers know.
If officers identify a crime has taken place, they will make a police report. Making a police report is not the same as filing charges against the offender. Follow up with a victim advocate in the police department by calling 859-258-3600 to ask if the offender was charged with a crime. A detective from the Domestic Violence Unit may follow-up with you to gather additional information about the case and anything that has occurred since the original report, like whether the offender has attempted to contact you.
Will the police arrest the offender?
If there is evidence a crime occurred, the police may arrest the offender. Officers have a duty to protect, so the offender may be arrested whether or not you want to press charges or ask that the offender not be arrested. The officer may make an arrest without a warrant. If the offender has fled the scene, officers may apply for an arrest warrant to bring the offender into police custody when he or she is located.
If the offender is arrested, he or she will be charged with a crime and taken to jail. However, the offender may be able to post bond and be released almost immediately. Because release from jail is always possible, you should plan for your safety. See page 26 for more information.
An offender can be released from jail at ANY TIME.
For many domestic violence, dating violence, and sexual violence related charges, “no contact with the victim” is a condition of release. A victim advocate can tell you if this applies to your case and what you should do if that condition is violated.
Types of Evidence
No matter how small or insignificant your evidence seems, it may help others understand what you have experienced and may make a difference in what can be proven to the court.
If you do not have physical evidence or witnesses, you should not feel discouraged. While physical evidence can strengthen your case, the most important evidence is your testimony.
Photos: If you have visible injuries, have photographs taken for evidence in court. Some injuries, like bruises, may be more visible one to several days after the incident. If this is the case, you will want to have your injuries photographed again. You can request photos be taken by the Office of the Fayette County Sheriff or the Lexington Police Department. If you receive medical treatment for your injuries, you may request that your doctor take photos. If photographs of your injuries exist, always make sure your advocate, attorney, and judge are aware.
Other Evidence: It is important to keep all documentation and evidence related to the abuse or threats of harm you have experienced. This might include:
- Voicemail, phone call logs, and text messages
- Email and social media posts, including messages sent by a third party
- Cards, notes, gifts
- Photos or videos
- Medical records
- Witness(es) names and contact information
- Written documentation you have kept, such as a journal or stalking log
Make sure your advocate, the police, and the court are aware of any evidence you have. The police may be able to help you preserve evidence.
Evidence for Sexual Assault
After a sexual assault, not all victims have physical trauma. However, some may have physical trauma they cannot feel or see. Having a medical exam can help identify such trauma. It is your choice whether to receive a medical exam. This exam is referred to as a SAFE (Sexual Assault Forensic Exam).
A SAFE serves two main purposes: 1) to provide medical care by identifying, treating, and documenting injury as well as proving appropriate medical testing when indicated and 2) to assist in the collection of physical evidence, such as DNA, in order to preserve the option to bring criminal charges for the prosecution of the perpetrator.
In Fayette County, the University of Kentucky hospital has an on-call SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) available to do these exams. SANEs are specially trained nurses that provide compassionate, culturally sensitive, and comprehensive medical services to victims. SANEs are also trained in evidence collection, which may be helpful if you think you may want to pursue legal action.
If you choose to have a medical forensic exam (SAFE), it is important to not bathe, shower, douche, change clothes, brush your teeth, or comb or spray your hair until a medical professional says it’s okay.
Evidence for Stalking
Stalking is a crime that often occurs in the context of domestic violence and sexual violence. While it can be terrifying for victims, stalking can also be very difficult to prosecute because of the personal nature of the crime. Keeping a stalking incident and behavior log can be very helpful to the investigation and prosecution of any charges.
A stalking log should be used to document all stalking-related behavior, including phone calls, emails, letters, property destruction, and unexpected encounters with the offender. Document not only what occurred, but how it made you feel.
Here are a few good resources to help you learn more about keeping a stalking log and planning for your safety:
- Stalking and Harassment Assessment and Risk Profile (SHARP)
- Stalking Resource Center
- Technology Safety
Evidence for Strangulation
Strangulation (sometimes referred to as choking) has been identified as one of the most lethal forms of domestic violence, dating violence, and sexual violence. Offenders may use their hands, legs, arms, cords, belts, or other objects on a victim’s neck.
While the seriousness of strangulation may not be immediately evident since many injuries are internal, being strangled can cause serious health problems, even in the long-term. If you have been strangled, seek medical attention as soon as possible.
If you choose to have your injuries photographed, you may request that pictures be taken of marks around your neck and behind your ears, blood-shot eyes, and any petechial (tiny red spots) around your eyes and on your eyelids and earlobes. You may also want to record your voice if it has changed as a result of strangulation.
While pictures are best, a log can also be used to record signs and symptoms of strangulation, such as difficulty speaking (hoarse or raspy voice), ringing in ears, vomiting and nausea, dizziness, trouble swallowing, loss of control of your bladder or bowels, loss of consciousness, and more.
Here are a few good resources to help you learn more about the seriousness of strangulation: