When you first contact the police, there may be an initial interview. The initial interview is when a police officer asks for basic information about what happened. Police will ask for more information when you give a statement. A statement is a formal account of what happened. A statement can occur at the police station, or a mutually agreed upon location.
Before making your statement, mention any accessibility or accommodation requests you may have. This may include interpretation or translation services, transportation, having a support person with you, or a service animal. A Legal Support Navigator with The Journey Project can also assist you with arranging accommodations.
The investigating officer will give you an opportunity to describe, in your own words, what happened, and why you are there. The police officer will likely ask you some specific questions to ensure they have as much information possible for their investigation.
Your statement may be videotaped and/or audiotaped for court purposes, as it may be entered as evidence. You may be allowed to bring along a support person with you. It is best to ask the officer ahead of time if this is possible. You may want to bring water and tissues with you. You can also take along any notes you have to help jog your memory.
The police officer will likely ask you difficult, personal, or invasive questions about what happened. At this point, you may have been asked to tell the same story with the same information multiple times. The purpose of this is to ensure the police gain a full understanding of the events.
You should answer all questions as completely and truthfully as you can. If you do not know or cannot remember the answer to a question, it is ok to tell the officer that. If you are making a guess at an answer, tell the officer that. It is best not to try to fill in blanks if you do not know the answer.
The police officer may ask you
- The name, description of the suspect(s).
- Details surrounding the event(s) (e.g. time, date, location).
- About events prior to the assault(s).
- What happened? You may be asked to give a very detailed description of the assault(s).
- Whether or not you sustained any physical injuries.
- If you got or tried to get medical treatment.
- If there were any witnesses to the incident(s).
A witness is someone who the police think might have relevant information about a crime. The police may want to speak to them, and their statement may be used as evidence in court. They may have to appear in court to provide their testimony.
If you cannot remember all the details, that is ok. Trauma can impact memory and our ability to recount incidents in chronological order. If there are details you may have forgotten, or details that you remember after the interview, you can contact the investigator to follow up.
It is important to remember that the information provided during this statement may be used in court. If you would like to receive legal advice, the Journey Project Legal Support Service offers eligible participants up to four hours of free legal advice.