Why Does It Take a Long Time to File a Sex Crime Case?

Posted by Ronald D. HeddingApr 14, 2022

I've been defending people for sex crime cases in Los Angeles and surrounding counties and across the national federally for almost 30 years, so I have a pretty good idea that it can take a long time to file a sex crime case universally.

The reasons for this are multiple, in the sense that it depends on the type of case and the actual jurisdiction when you try to evaluate why they're taking so long. For example, law enforcement authorities seize those devices in a sex crime case with images or videos, telephones, computers, tablets, etc.

Why Does It Take a Long Time to File a Sex Crime Case?

This could include local police or the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). They send those off to be evaluated by experts. Because there's usually a backlog, it can take several months for the experts to get to the subject devices, download the images, view them, and figure out what's on there, such as child pornography.

In many sexual-related cases in California, the police don't arrest someone right away; instead, it's handled by a detective in a specialized unit within the police department. Some cases can take months, even years, for them to prosecute the case. The primary reasons include the following:

  • There are a limited number of detectives handing sex cases, and
  • The LAPD and sheriff's detectives are typically understaffed,
  • Prosecutors are extremely busy, and it takes time to review the case,
  • Prosecution of sex crime cases is under stack from different groups.

They don't have the manpower to investigate some of these cases.  I've had some sex cases where they took two or three years to file a charge against my client.  Our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers will explain this important topic in more detail below.

Police Detectives and Prosecutors Who File Sex Charges

I've asked police detectives what has taken so long?  Where have you been?  I'm frequently told they have a limited number of detectives investigating sexual-related cases in Los Angeles County and can't keep up with new criminal investigations.  

Further, due to the politically charged atmosphere surrounding sex crimes against minors and sex trafficking allegations, there are a lot of complaints filed with the police. While most are valid, there are many false or exaggerated claims. Police have to weed out the invalid claims, which takes even more time.

Prosecutors Who File Sex Charges

Sometimes, it takes a lot of time for police to figure out which are good cases that sense to investigate which ones are not so good. Another factor that must consider if you're under investigation for a sex crime is that after the police complete their research, they have to present their case to a filing prosecutor, who usually is very busy.

Thus, it often takes a long time for a police detective to conduct a sex crime investigation. It can also take even longer for the District Attorney's Office to review the case from the detective and decide to file formal criminal charges.

Now you have a situation where after the police take a long time to do their work, the prosecutors filing deputies take a long time to look into these cases and make decisions.

In addition, if it's a close call on whether or not to file charges, they might send the case back to the detective, saying they need more evidence and will not file the case. This means the case will go back and forth between the police and the DA's office.

See related: Best Defense in California Sex Crime Case

What are the Common California Sex Crime Charges?

  • Penal Code 311 PC – child pornography laws,
  • Penal Code 647.6 PC – annoying or molesting a child,
  • Penal Code 288 PC – lewd acts with a minor,
  • Penal Code 288a PC – oral copulation with minor,
  • Penal Code 290 PC – failing to register as a sex offender,
  • Penal Code 314 PC – indecent exposure,
  • Penal Code 647 PC – lewd acts in public,
  • Penal Code 647(b) PC - solicitation of prostitution,
  • Penal Code 243.4 PC - sexual battery,
  • Penal Code 261PC – rape,
  • Penal Code 261.5 PC – statutory rape,
  • Penal Code 266h and 266i PC – pimping and pandering,
  • Penal Code 288.4 PC – arrange a meeting with a minor for lewd purposes,
  • Penal Code 288.2 PC – sending harmful matter to seduce minor,
  • Penal Code 288.3 PC - contacting minor to commit felony,
  • Penal Code 288.5 PC - continuous sexual abuse of a child,
  • Penal Code 288(b)(2) PC – lewd acts by a caretaker,
  • Penal Code 289 PC - forcible sexual penetration with a foreign object,
  • Penal Code 290 PC – sex offender registration,
  • Penal Code 647(a) PC – lewd conduct in public,
  • Penal Code 647(J)(4) PC – revenge porn,
  • Penal Code 647(i) and 647(j) PC – peeping tom laws
  • Penal Code 653.22 PC - loitering for prostitution,
  • Penal Code 653.23 PC - supervising or aiding prostitution,
  • Sexting laws,
  • Chat room sex crimes.

Contact the Hedding Law If Charged with a Sex Crime

The bottom line is, if you or a loved one is charged with a sex crime and it's prefiling, you want to get an attorney because the attorney can do things and make moves on your behalf that can #1, prevent a filing; and #2, protect you in the future if there is a filing.

We can make sure the evidence is preserved, witnesses are preserved, so if the case is filed against you, the defense is ready to go at a moment's notice.

Sex Crime Defense Lawyers in California

Attorneys can also arrange for you to surrender yourself and arrange for bail.  That way, you don't just get grabbed at your home or work, embarrassed, put in a bad position where you're unprepared, can't bail out, or a long period goes by while you try to bail out – nobody wants to have that. So, there are many reasons why sex crimes can take a long time to prosecute. 

You'll have to come in and sit down with me, and we'll talk about it.  But, the bottom line is, if you're investigated for a sex crime – either been charged or you think you might be charged, you should get an attorney right away.

I've been doing this for 30 years.  I've worked for the District Attorney's office.  I've worked for a Superior Court Judge and been a criminal defense attorney since the early 1990s, representing people like you.

Pick up the phone now.  Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding at the Hedding Law Firm.  I stand at the ready to help you. The Hedding Law firm is based in Los Angeles County and serves people throughout Southern California. Our firm offers a free initial consultation by phone at (213) 542-0979, or you can fill out our contact form.