The 20 Elements of the You Have Options Program
What are the 20 Elements of the You Have Options Program?Download the 20 elements
The You Have Options Program believes in providing victims of sexual assault with as much control over their report and any subsequent criminal investigation as the law allows. Unless legally mandated as with certain instances of domestic violence, or in other rare circumstances such as a significant threat to public safety, the 20 Elements of a You Have Options Law Enforcement Response shall be offered during every sexual assault report and/or investigation.
A victim of sexual assault is offered three options for reporting: Information Only, Partial Investigation or Complete Investigation.
- An Information Only Report includes any report of sexual assault where, at the reporting party’s request, no investigative process beyond a victim interview and/or a complete or partial Inquiry into Serial Sexual Assault (ISSA) is completed.
- A Partial Investigation includes any report of sexual assault where some investigative processes beyond the victim interview and a complete or partial Inquiry into Serial Sexual Assault (ISSA), have been initiated by law enforcement. This may include, but is not limited to, interviewing of witnesses and collection of evidence such as a sexual assault forensic examination (SAFE) kit.
- A Complete Investigation includes any report of sexual assault where all investigative procedures necessary to determine if probable cause exists for a criminal sexual assault offense have been initiated and completed.
- A sexual assault victim may change from an Information Only report to a Partial or Complete Investigation at any time.
- A sexual assault victim may initially request a Complete Investigation and change to a Partial Investigation at any time prior to the conclusion of all investigative processes.
- It is the recommendation of the You Have Options Program to not list a person as a “suspect” unless all investigative processes have been completed (Complete Investigation), or in the case of a Partial Investigation the investigative processes completed have shown probable cause to believe the crime reported occurred. However, each individual agency may determine how it chooses to list a reported perpetrator in its report writing system (i.e., person of interest, suspect, involved). A reported perpetrator’s known biographical information, such as a name and birth date, shall be included in the report to aid in identifying serial perpetration.
A victim or other reporting party may remain anonymous and still have the information they provide documented by a You Have Options Program Law Enforcement Agency.
- Sexual assault information received from any of the reporting options shall be documented in written form and retained in a way that best preserves a victim’s options and supports retrieval at a later date to aid in identifying serial sexual perpetration. If legally permissible, no report of sexual assault shall be purged or deleted from a law enforcement agency’s records system.
- All information received on a reported sexual assault shall be documented regardless of the apparent credibility of the reporter or apparent veracity of the information being provided. Failure to document all available information inhibits the ability of investigators to identify serial sexual perpetration.
- Investigating officers shall respect the decision of the reporter and not initiate in-person contact.
A victim or other reporting party may have questions answered regarding their options for reporting and/or a criminal investigation prior to providing any identifying or incident information to law enforcement.
A clear explanation of the reporting process and/or investigative procedures will be provided by a law enforcement officer if requested by the victim.
This is facilitated by the official YHOP website, www.ReportingOptions.org, and additional materials provided by the You Have Options Program.
When making a report, there is no requirement to meet in person with a law enforcement officer. For example, a victim or other reporting party may report using an online form or a victim may choose to have a sexual assault advocate report on their behalf.
- Victims who choose to report through a third-party, such as a sexual assault advocate, maintain their chosen level of confidentiality while still providing to law enforcement important information on serial sexual perpetration.
- With a victim’s permission, law enforcement has the ability to contact the victim through a third party.
Reasonable efforts will be made to allow the victim or other reporting party control over the location, time and date where their initial report is made to law enforcement.
If accommodations are unable to be made as requested by a victim or reporting party, a clear explanation as to why shall be provided by the law enforcement officer.
A victim or other reporting party may provide as much, or as little, information as they choose with no time limitations or restrictions on when the information is given to law enforcement.
Information obtained on an incident outside the current statute of limitations shall be documented to assist in identifying serial sexual perpetration and/or in other investigations.
Law enforcement officers will offer assistance in locating sexual assault advocacy services to every person reporting.
- The physical and mental health and welfare of every victim of sexual assault shall be the priority at all times.
- Not all victims of sexual assault request or want the services of a sexual assault advocate, and care should be taken to respect each victim’s individual decision.
- Additional confidentiality and victim safety concerns should be considered when contacting sexual assault advocacy, particularly in rural communities and/or in communities where the victim may personally know the advocate.
A victim may be accompanied by a sexual assault advocate or other appropriate support person during all phases of the reporting process and criminal investigation.
If necessary, a clear explanation will be provided to a victim if his/her selected support person is not appropriate, such as a person who was a witness to the assault.
A victim, or other reporting party, may end an interview with law enforcement at any time without having to provide a reason.
After making a report, a victim or other reporting party will not be pressured to participate in a criminal investigation.
Reasonable efforts will be made to meet the needs of the victim and address any barriers the victim faces in providing information to law enforcement during the reporting process.
- Each victim reporting a sexual assault will have unique needs and circumstances that influence the decision to report. Often law enforcement has means of addressing the reasons why a victim may be hesitant to report. Working in coordination with the sexual assault victim, and his/her advocate if applicable, to identify and address these barriers is a core component of the You Have Options Program.
- Understanding that each victim’s individual situation is unique, investigating officers shall attempt to view the reporting process from the victim’s perspective and not assume what barriers a victim faces when reporting sexual assault.
- Many barriers such as lack of transportation to the interview location or hesitancy to enter a law enforcement facility may be readily remedied by law enforcement if known.
- By addressing the barriers victims face when reporting sexual assault, and thereby increasing the number of sexual assault reports, investigators receive information they would otherwise never have had access to.
Law enforcement officers will conduct victim interviews in a trauma-informed manner.
- The victim’s safety, cognitive ability and mental health shall be taken into consideration prior to any interview.
- Victim statements shall be documented in a manner best allowing for an accurate record of the victim’s exact statements, not a synopsis of the interviewer’s perception of what was said. Paraphrasing can impart a different meaning. It is strongly recommended that, with a victim’s consent, all victim interviews be audio and/or video recorded.
- Any method of documentation must accurately reflect the actual words spoken by a victim or reporting party, removing the chance for inconsistencies between the victim and interviewer’s recall of the interview.
Reasonable efforts will be made to meet the needs of the victim and address any barriers the victim faces when participating in a sexual assault investigation.
- Each victim of sexual assault will have unique needs and circumstances that influence the decision whether to continue with a criminal investigation. Often law enforcement has means of addressing the reasons why a victim may be hesitant to pursue charges against the person who assaulted them. Working in coordination with the sexual assault victim to identify and address these barriers is a core component of YHOP.
- Understanding that each victim’s individual situation is unique, investigating officers shall attempt to view the investigative process from the victim’s perspective and not assume what barriers a victim faces when participating in a sexual assault investigation.
- Barriers such as the victim not wanting the suspect to go to jail or specific people to be interviewed may be readily remedied by explaining other Elements of YHOP.
A victim’s right to keep the assault confidential will be respected. When legally permissible, no person (outside of a law enforcement agency) will be notified that the victim has reported without the victim’s consent. This includes the interviewing of identified witnesses and perpetrators.
- Investigators shall make reasonable efforts to only initiate processes that will maintain the victim’s requested level of confidentiality.
- Participating law enforcement agencies who do not have personnel designated as Title IX responsible persons, 20 U.S.C. § 1681(a), (most often non-campus law enforcement agencies) shall be careful to restrict information-sharing with any institution with Title IX mandated reporting requirements for sexual assault, unless the victim consents to the information dissemination after being informed of how the institution’s Title IX policy may limit the victim’s ability to remain confidential.
- Participating law enforcement agencies who do have personnel designated as responsible persons in relation to Title IX (most often campus law enforcement agencies) shall make reasonable efforts to inform persons considering reporting about Title IX requirements that may limit their ability to remain confidential within the campus administrative process.
- Title IX does not impact a sexual assault victim’s ability to remain confidential in the criminal justice process and campus sworn law enforcement shall, when legally able to do so, only initiate processes that maintain the victim’s requested level of confidentiality during the criminal process.
- Participating law enforcement agencies shall take reasonable steps to inform sexual assault victims prior to a report being made when their requested level of confidentiality may not be legally permissible. For example, listing on the participating agency’s “report” page on www.reportingoptions.org common situations (i.e., domestic violence, child abuse investigations, Title IX requirements) when the participating law enforcement agency may not be able to keep a report confidential.
- Non-campus law enforcement agencies are encouraged to share information with appropriate campus personnel regarding reported sexual violence related to that campus when the sharing of that information does not impact the victim’s requested level of confidentiality.
Investigators will utilize strategies to identify and document serial sexual perpetration, such as the Inquiry into Serial Sexual Assault (ISSA).
- Serial perpetration strategies include, but are not limited to: focusing on how a suspect made the victim vulnerable, accessible and appear to lack credibility and identifying those who can corroborate that behavior; identifying witnesses to the victim’s and suspect’s behavior prior to and after the assault; and identifying opportunities for corroborative intelligence that can reveal motive, premeditation and/or information that may lead an investigator to additional victims.
- If reasonably possible, investigative strategies conducted by the investigating officer shall be discussed with the victim prior to their execution.
- Investigators shall make reasonable efforts to only initiate processes that will maintain the victim’s requested level of confidentiality.
Investigators will collaborate with victims during the investigative process and respect a victim’s right to request certain investigative steps not be conducted. Criminal investigations will be conducted at a pace set by the victim, not the law enforcement officer. The victim will be informed that no case can proceed to arrest or referral to an office of prosecution until the investigative process is complete.
- At a victim’s request, reasonable efforts will be made to collect and store evidence regardless of the victim’s decision on whether to proceed with charges or participate in a complete investigation.
- Investigating officers will keep victims of sexual assault informed regarding the status of the investigation.
- Victims will be informed that no case can proceed to arrest or referral to an office of prosecution until the investigative process is complete.
A victim may disengage from a criminal investigation at any time prior to an arrest being made or the case being referred to an office of prosecution. There is no requirement that an explanation be given by the victim to law enforcement.
If legally permissible and probable cause exists for a crime, no arrest or referral to an office of prosecution will occur without the consent of the victim. All You Have Options Law Enforcement Agencies respect the choice of every victim who reports a sexual assault and understand that justice is not the same for every person who is victimized.
Investigating officers shall offer options and not advice or directives. For example, it is never appropriate for any officer to tell a victim that they should cooperate with an investigation in order to prevent the sexual offender from assaulting others. The responsibility to not harm is the offender’s, not the victims.
Criminal investigations that do not result in arrest or referral to an office of prosecution will be classified as “inactive”, or the individual agency’s equivalent, unless found baseless or false, allowing for the investigation to be re-opened in the future at a victim’s request and/or if additional information is discovered.