Jurisdiction determines the law enforcement agency involved in your child's case. This may be the city Police Department, the Sheriff's Office, or the State Police. It is the responsibility of law enforcement officials to investigate, make a report, file charges, and determine if arrest and further investigation is necessary. The investigation and legal process are best served when detectives have specific training in sexual abuse
, its symptoms
dynamics, and evidence-gathering. If law enforcement determines that sufficient evidence is present for pressing charges, they will inform the Office of the District Attorney
If the alleged perpetrator
of the abuse does not live in the home, the law enforcement agency will be the only agency involved in the investigation. However, if the child is in the home, both law enforcement and child protective services
will conduct an investigation. Whether abuse is disclosed
initially to law enforcement or to child protective services, these agencies will cooperate during the investigation
Law enforcement focuses on the criminal aspects of the case, gathering evidence and testimony to determine if the case is substantiated, an arrest can be made, and charges be brought against the abuser
. Child protective services focuses on the welfare and safety of the child and follows policies and procedures to determine if the case is founded, whether the child needs to be placed in protective custody
, and what interventions are necessary for the child and family.
If law enforcement is the first agency to receive the report, they must report to child protective services within a reasonable period of time. Minimal response time is critical to maintaining the safety of the child. Law enforcement may also be the referral agency to the local Child Abuse Assessment Center
, if one is available. They will usually visit the home and conduct an investigation, gathering evidence and taking testimony. If the child is interviewed in a child abuse assessment center, both law enforcement and child protective services are often present, although not directly involved in the child's interview. Law enforcement is interested in determining if the child's testimony is strong enough to charge and arrest the perpetrator.
Determination of sufficient evidence for charging the perpetrator may be dependent on the interview with the child, physical evidence obtained during the physician's examination, and interview with the mother
or custodial parent who may have additional corroborating evidence. Law enforcement will then report these facts to the Office of the District Attorney.
If child protective services determines that the child(ren) is unsafe, they may obtain a court order to place the child under protective custody
. Law enforcement will come to the child's residence and assist in the child's removal.