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Survey finds rapes, sexual assaults increased in 2018

Minnesota readers might be concerned to learn that the number of Americans who say they were victims of rape and sexual assault nearly doubled between 2017 and 2018, according to an annual survey. The study was conducted by the U.S. Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics.

The 2018 National Crime Victimization Survey, which was published on Sept. 10, polled approximately 240,000 Americans from around 150,000 households to find out if they had been the victims of any crimes, either reported or unreported. The survey serves as a valuable contrast to the annual FBI crime report, which only includes crimes reported to the police. It found that the rate of people reporting that they had been raped or sexually assaulted jumped from 1.4 per 1000 in 2017 to 2.7 per 1000 in 2018. According to independent analysts, the spike is statistically significant. However, no one is sure whether the jump reflects an actual increase in the number of crimes, an increase in the reporting of crimes, or a mixture of both.

While the NCVS survey has shown an upward trend in rapes and sexual assaults over the last few years, experts point out that reports of the two crimes are still at record lows. For instance, last year's totals were lower than they were in 2012 and nominally above what they were in 2013.

Individuals charged with violent crimes might believe they have limited options. However, after reviewing the details of a case, an attorney might be able to develop a solid defense against the accusations. For example, by challenging the evidence, it may be possible to get the charges dismissed. It may also be possible to negotiate a plea deal that reduces the charges, which could help the defendant obtain a more lenient sentence.

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