Investigating Sex Crime Cases

sexual assault crime
An overview of sexual assault crimes and punishment.

Overview of Investigating Sex Crimes for Private Investigators

This article provides an overview of sex crime investigations. Sexual assault is an assault of a sexual nature on another person. Although these types of assaults are committed most frequently by a man on a woman, it may also be by a man on a man, woman on a man, or woman on a woman. However, it is much more common for crimes to be committed against women.

Facts: Approximately one in six American women will be a victim of a sexual assault crime in her lifetime. Approximately ten percent of all rapes are suffered by males due to child rape and prison rape. 

While these types of physical assaults are most often associated with the crime of rape, this crime may cover any related physical harm which would not necessarily be considered rape.

What constitutes a sexual assault is determined by the laws of the jurisdiction where the physical activity actually takes place, which vary considerably, and can be influenced by local social and cultural attitudes. Such crimes may include rape, forced vaginal, anal, or oral penetration, forced intercourse, inappropriate touching, forced kissing, child molestation, and the torture of the victim in a sexual manner.

Punishment for Sexual Assault Crimes

The punishment associated with such crimes varies depending on the acts involved, the severity of the acts, the age of the victim, and the jurisdiction in which they occur. However, they are generally punished harshly by the courts, and prison sentences are doled out accordingly. Abusers can count on serving a healthy jail sentence and spending the rest of their lives labeled as a predator.

Sex Crime Investigations

The Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Reporting (SAFER) act of 2013 recommended the development of best practices and protocols for the collection and processing of DNA evidence in sexual assault cases. A working group was formed with experts from the National Institute of Justice, law enforcement agencies, forensic laboratories, medical examiners, and many more. Over the course of two years, the SAFER Working Group developed a best practices document. The 150-page book is available o the National Institute of Justice website.

Recommended Books

If you’d like to learn more about this sensitive type of investigation, I recommend the following book:

Investigating Sexual Assault Cases (Jones & Bartlett Learning Guides to Law Enforcement Investigation)

Investigating Sexual Assault Cases (Jones & Bartlett Learning Guides to Law Enforcement Investigation)

This book was written specifically for criminal investigation courses. It covers the entire investigative process from start to finish. It explains the basic responsibilities of first responders and covers the unique demands for investigators on these types of cases.

It touches on topics such as interviewing, reporting, working with prosecutors and advice for getting further information.

How do Private Investigators get involved?

Private investigators may be retained by parents or employers to investigate claims of sexual abuse or harassment. In some situations, private investigators may be able to uncover information and evidence not found by law enforcement officers and thus help solve the case. Due to the sensitive nature of this type of investigation, it is wise to have some type of training or knowledge of the subject.

Conducting a sex crime investigation may be slow and frustrating, as it is often difficult to get the victim to discuss the crime or reveal details. Always remain sensitive to the severity of the acts and the physical and emotional damage they may cause. A private investigator must demonstrate both understanding and empathy to help break through the walls of protection put up by most victims.

Questions and Comments

If you have any questions about sex crime investigations, please leave a comment below. For more legal definitions, visit our Glossary of Legal and Investigation Terms.

Michael Kissiah is the owner of Brandy Lane Publishing, LLC, which owns and operates a small portfolio of websites, including Michael created more than 20 years ago after working as a private investigator in the state of Florida. Since that time, he has become an expert at how to find information online and has written over 1000 articles on topics related to the investigation industry. In addition, he is the author of the "Private Investigator Licensing Handbook", available at


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