Louisiana residents may have heard about the San Francisco 49ers' recent release of defensive lineman Ray McDonald. The eight-year NFL veteran was terminated following the initiation of a sexual assault investigation by San Jose police.
The department has begun an investigation into allegations of sexual assault against the football star. Officers obtained a search warrant and searched McDonald's home after a preliminary investigation. No arrests have been made or criminal charges filed in the case, however. The 49ers made the decision to terminate McDonald based on multiple recent conduct infractions that went against team policies. The player had been signed through the 2015 season, with prospects for receiving a long-term commitment from the team.
Even without due process being completed an individual may endure consequences of criminal allegations, such as in this instance. Though reputational harm cannot be returned in a court of law, some guidelines are in place to make sure the judgment in a criminal case is not as arbitrarily given as that in public opinion. For most sexual assault cases involving a victim over the age of 18, the statute of limitations in which charges can be brought is within two years after the commission of the offense. If allegations do result in a criminal charge, certain time limits apply to make sure the process is resolved quickly and efficiently. The Constitution limits the amount of time officers can detain a subject before an arrest must be made. The 6th Amendment right to a speedy trial affords a defendant the right to be tried for alleged crimes within a reasonable time after an arrest. Generally, this means a prosecutor must formally bring charges within 72 hours of when an individual is placed in custody. While a prosecutor may alter the charged crimes after obtaining more evidence, failure to bring charges within the initial time limit may be a violation of a defendant's rights.
The consequences of an accusation for assault charges can quickly damage someone's reputation, not to mention increase anxiety over an impending criminal case. Statutory and Constitutional guidelines help assure defendants that proper due process has been followed and allow for remedies should one of the regulations be broken.
Source: WAFB, "49ers release McDonald amid further legal trouble," Janie McCauley and Paul Elias, Dec. 17, 2014