Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton College
Sexual Assault Information

Campus Life

Criminal Prosecution

  1. How do I initiate criminal charges and where should I go? Does it matter if the incident took place on or off campus?

    • If the sexual assault occurred on campus, criminal charges can be initiated by reporting a sexual assault to Wheaton Public Safety officers who, in turn, will contact Norton Police Department detectives. An NPD detective will meet with the victim to take a statement and provide further information regarding evidence, investigation, and prosecution options.
    • If the sexual assault occurred off campus, Wheaton Public Safety officers will assist the victim in contacting the police department of the town in which the assault occurred.
  2. Will the accused person be immediately arrested?
    • The accused person may not necessarily be immediately arrested. The local police department, in consultation with the District Attorney's Office, makes the decision to arrest based on several factors: whether the assault was violent; whether the accused is a flight risk; whether there is a community-wide threat (stranger vs. acquaintance rape).
  3. If a suspect is in custody, what are the court proceedings, how long will they take and will I have to be involved? Can I change my mind about pressing charges?
    • The process is victim-driven and moves forward only if the victim chooses. The victim can, at any point in the process, change her mind and simply state that she no longer wants to pursue charges.
    • Typically, the suspect is arraigned quickly but the actual trial may take many months to years to actually begin due to pretrial conferences, continuances, and legal maneuvering.
  4. Is the prosecution confidential? Does the prosecution cost money?
    • There is no charge to prosecute as the case is actually the Commonwealth of Massachusetts vs. the accused. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts will pay all costs associated with prosecution.
    • No, the prosecution is not confidential. The proceedings are considered part of the public record and available for the public to access.

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