Every crime in California is defined by a specific code section. Our attorneys explain the law, penalties and best defense strategies for every major crime in California.
Rape » What is a rape kit?
The back-up of rate kit processing has been much in the news of late. But what exactly is a rape kit?
A rape kit – more properly known as a sexual assault evidence kit (SAEK) or sexual assault kit (SAK)– is a container that includes materials and instructions for collecting possible DNA specimens during a sexual assault forensic exam.
It is not necessary to report a sexual assault in order to have a sexual assault forensic exam. However, DNA must normally be collected within 72 hours (although some states allow as much as five days). A rape kit can, therefore, preserve evidence in the event that a possible victim thereafter wishes to report the crime.
A sexual assault forensic examination needs to be performed by a healthcare professional with the proper training: a sexual assault nurse examiner (SANE), sexual assault forensic examiner (SAFE), sexual assault examiner (SAE), or forensic nurse examiner (FNE).
If you believe you have been sexually assaulted, you can call RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800 656-HOPE (4673) or a local sexual assault service provider to find a location where a rape kit can be collected.
Rape kits vary somewhat from state to state, but often include:
Again, the process can vary, but during a rape kit collection, the following steps are often taken:
These steps may take as long as several hours. You are usually permitted to have someone else with you during the exam. However, you should be aware that unless the person is your attorney, they may be subject to subpoena in any future prosecution and can be asked about what you say or do.
Also, while it is natural to want to wash and clean up after a traumatic event, experts advise against it as it could destroy or damage evidence. Activities to avoid include:
After collection, the rape kit will usually be transferred to law enforcement. If you have not yet decided to report the assault, you may be allowed to store it in a law enforcement law or the exam facility anyway.
The kit will usually remain sealed until the investigating law enforcement agency asks a crime lab to analyze it, usually after a DNA sample has been collected from the alleged perpetrator. In some locations, this happens automatically once a crime has been reported to police.
A rape kit can be processed in less than a week, however, three to six months is more typical. In jurisdictions with inadequate funding or many kits to process, it may take a year or more. Or the kit may never be processed at all. Reasons for this might include:
The amount of time a rape kit is kept varies by jurisdiction. If you do not report the crime, the lab will generally only keep the kit about 6 months (although it may be longer). If the crime has been reported, the kit will usually be kept for at least as long as the statute of limitations on the crime alleged. However, given the clamor to increase the statute of limitations for sexual assault and expected improvements in DNA testing, a kit may actually be kept much longer.
For more information about rape kit testing, possible victims of sexual assault can contact RAINN or their local victim’s assistance center.
People accused of sexual assault should contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer in the jurisdiction where they have been accused.
If you have been accused or charged with sexual assault, or you believe you might need a California sex crimes lawyer, Nevada sex crimes lawyer, or Colorado sex crimes lawyer, we invite you to contact us for a free consultation.
An accusation of sexual assault is a traumatic experience for everyone involved. The best advice we can give to anyone who may have been the victim of a sex offense or who is accused of one is to get a competent professional involved as soon as possible.
A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, Court TV, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.
Yes. Nevada criminal defense attorneys often see cases where an act of “rough sex gone bad” ends in an arrest. And much of the time, the defendant did nothing wrong or did not realize he/she was doing anything wrong. Many people enjoy being restrained or “roughed up” during intimacy, which is perfectly legal as long ...
What is the statute of limitations for sexual assault in Nevada?Watch this video on YouTube Nevada law has no statute of limitations to bring rape (NRS 200.366) charges when either 1) the suspect is identified by DNA evidence, and/or 2) a police report of the alleged rape is filed within 20 years of the incident. ...
A bill recently introduced in the California legislature would abolish the statute of limitations for rape and a host of other sex crimes. If passed, the law would mean that prosecutors could pursue sexual assault and other charges decades after the acts were allegedly committed. The bill, SB 813, was written by state Senator Connie ...
False accusations of rape occur when an accuser claims to be a victim, but in actuality, no rape ever took place. Many of these cases turn out to be he said /she said scenarios where there are no independent witnesses or other corroboration. When this occurs, there are a number of legal defense strategies that ...