Under California law, certain licensed professionals, such as teachers, doctors, nurses and daycare providers, are mandated reporters. If they are made aware of an accusation of emotional, physical or sexual abuse being committed against a child, they must report the accusation to the police and child protective services. This can result in the start of a criminal investigation by police and the child being removed from the home and placed into foster care. In some instances, the accused may be forced to vacate the home under threat of the child being taken away. The accusation does not have to include actual physical touching, but any accusation of inappropriate conduct can lead the police and CPS becoming involved.
Once the police start their investigation, the accused may not be contacted right away and therefore, have no idea they are being investigated. The police will begin to gather evidence, such as statements from the child and the person to whom the accusation was made. The child's other parent will be interviewed. Evidence from the house, such as bed sheets or clothing, may be collected. The child may be taken to a hospital to have a sexual assault examination performed. One of the most common tactics used by police is what is known as the "pre-text call". The child is taken to the police station and asked to call the accused. With the police recording the call, the child tries to get the accused to admit that they committed certain acts of sexual misconduct. Due to the unexpected and shocking nature of the call, the accused will be caught off guard and may make damaging admissions. These recorded statements will then be used against them in any subsequent legal proceedings.
Contact with accused
Once the police have gathered sufficient information, the accused will be contacted. The police may arrest the accused and begin interrogating them at the police station. More likely, police will ask the accused to "voluntarily" come down to the police station for an interview. They may tell the accused that they are not under arrest, that they can choose not to answer certain questions, that they may leave at any time and will be allowed to go home after the interview. Once the accused agrees to these conditions, they do not have to be read their Miranda rights because they are not considered to be in custody. While the interview may start off in a friendly manner, that may quickly change if the police are not getting the accused to admit to the accusations. Police may lie to the accused, telling them they have DNA or skin cells, when in fact they don't. They will use psychological manipulation in order to break down the will of the accused in the hopes that they will confess.
What to do if contacted by the police
If you are contacted by the police regarding an accusation of child molestation or other inappropriate behavior with a child, DO NOT agree to meet with them or give them a statement under any circumstances. If you arrested, IMMEDIATELY invoke your right to an attorney and remain silent. DO NOT try and talk yourself out of this situation. The police are trained in various interrogation techniques, including psychological manipulation, to get a person to confess. False confessions are common under such circumstances. The police have conducted their investigation and wouldn't be asking to meet with you if they didn't think they had enough evidence to arrest you. They KNOW you're guilty and they just need you to admit it before they present their case to the prosecutor. If you receive an unexpected call from any child accusing you of inappropriate conduct with them, HANG UP. Finally, contact a criminal defense attorney who specializes in sex crimes defense as soon as possible.