There has been a lot in the news lately regarding rape kits that have not been processed by law enforcement in Utah. Fortunately, because of some federal grants and a $750,000 alottment by the Utah State Legislature, all of these untested kits can be processed.
In the past, because of the lack of unlimited funds, law enforcement was required to do DNA testing on only the most important cases at the time (i.e. serial rapist on the loose) or in cases of “stranger rape.” If a woman was raped by someone jumping out of the bushes, identity of the rapist is critical to the case. DNA is indispensible in helping to identify the perpetrator.
However, in cases where consent was the issue, DNA evidence is not going to be important to the rape case. In many of my cases, the prosecutor did not process the rape kit because of this issue. It wouldn’t help the state’s case because the defendant has already admitted to sex, but has argued that the sex was consensual. In some cases, the accuser is the girlfriend or wife of the defendant. In such cases, DNA is usually less critical to the case.
Because of the new funding, even rape kits where consent, rather than identity, is an issue will be processed. The results will be placed in a DNA database to determine if there are matches to DNA involved in unsolved rapes.
Does this create a backlog at the crime lab? Yes, it does create a burden for the state crime lab. However, with the new grants and funding, the rape kits can be processed by private labs which eases the burden on the state crime lab.
It is my hope that DNA taken from rape crime scenes prior to the advent of DNA, will be placed close to the front of the line in terms of priorty of testing. Many individuals incarcerated for rape in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s have been exonerated because of DNA.
It is a win-win to have all rape kits processed in Utah–both for the alleged victims and those who find themselves accused a the serious crime of rape.
If you are facing rape charges in Salt Lake City, Provo, Vernal, Logan, Ogden, Bountiful or any city in the State of Utah, please call me, a rape attorney for a free consultation