Experienced. Aggressive. Successful.

Sexual Assault Kit Processing

On March 22, Governor Gary Herbert signed House Bill 200, otherwise known as the "Sexual Assault Kit Processing Act." The bill required law enforcement agencies to submit sexual assault kits to state forensic labs for testing within 30 days of retrieval as well as the development and implementation of a statewide tracking system.

The Joyful Heart Foundation is a nonprofit organization with the mission to "transform society’s response to sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse, support survivors’ healing, and end this violence forever," and End the Backlog is a Joyful Heart Foundation program that focuses on the rape kit backlog in the United States. According to End the Backlog, Utah has approximately 2,700 untested rape kits.

Lawyer in Salt Lake City Discusses Sexual Assault Kit Processing

Do you think that you might be under investigation or were you already arrested for an alleged sexual assault in Utah? You should refuse to answer any questions until you have legal representation. Contact Susanne Gustin Attorney at Law as soon as possible.

Susanne Gustin is an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Salt Lake City who defends clients accused of sex crimes in communities all over Salt Lake County and Weber County. Call (801) 243-2814 right now to have our attorney provide a complete evaluation of your case during a free initial consultation.

Overview of Sexual Assault Kit Processing in Utah


Sexual Assault Kit Processing and Storage in Salt Lake County

Brigham Young University (BYU) nursing professor Julie Valentine conducted a study that examined 270 rape cases in Salt Lake County that took place between 2003 and 2011, and found only 6 percent of the cases led to prosecution. Valentine was the principal investigator in another study released in April 2016 that found 61.8 percent of sexual assault kits from Salt Lake County, Washington County, Iron County, Weber County, Davis County, Morgan County, and Box County for rapes from 2010-2013 were not submitted by law enforcement to the state crime laboratory for analysis.

When rape kits are not submitted to the state crime laboratory, they may remain in law enforcement custody, be submitted later, or they may be destroyed. The BYU study led to a public outcry that compelled Utah lawmakers to pass and enact the Sexual Assault Kit Processing Act.

Utah Code § 76-5-607(1) establishes that the Department of Public Safety must develop and implement a statewide tracking system by July 1, 2018, that contains the following information for all sexual assault kits collected by law enforcement:

The tracking system must include a secure electronic access that allows the submitting agency, collecting facility, department, and a victim, or his or her designee, to access or receive information, provided that the disclosure does not impede or compromise an active investigation, about the:


Sexual Assault Kit Processing Act Requirements in Utah

A sexual assault kit is "a package of items that is used by medical personnel to gather and preserve biological and physical evidence following an allegation of sexual assault." A restricted kit is defined under Utah Code § 76-5-602(4) as a sexual assault kit that is collected by a collecting facility and for which a victim who is 18 years of age or older chooses not to provide a personal statement about the sexual assault to law enforcement, as provided in Utah Code § 76-5-606(1)(d).

Utah Code § 76-5-606(1)(d) provides that collecting facility personnel who conduct sexual assault examinations must inform each victim of a sexual assault of their right to determine whether to provide a personal statement about the sexual assault to law enforcement and if law enforcement should have access to any paperwork from the forensic examination.

Except for restricted kits, each sexual assault kit shall be submitted to the Utah Bureau of Forensic Services as soon as possible, but no later than 30 days after receipt by a law enforcement agency. Restricted kits cannot be submitted to the Utah Bureau of Forensic Services, and must be maintained by the law enforcement agency with jurisdiction.

The collecting facility must enter the required victim information into the statewide sexual assault kit tracking system within 24 hours of performing a sexual assault examination. Sexual assault kit retention and disposal guidelines are established under Utah Code § 76-5-605, which states that any item of evidence gathered by collecting facility personnel, law enforcement, prosecutorial, or defense authorities that may be subject to DNA evidence testing and analysis in order to confirm the guilt or innocence of a criminal defendant cannot be disposed of before trial of a criminal defendant unless 50 years have passed from the date of evidence collection for sexual assault kits relating to an uncharged or unresolved crime or 20 years have passed from the date of evidence collection for restricted kits, and:


Sexual Assault Kit Processing Resources in Utah

Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault (UCASA) — UCASA is a nonprofit organization with the mission to "engage individuals and organizations in local and statewide collaborations to strengthen the effectiveness of sexual violence education, prevention, and response in Utah." On this website, you can learn more about sexual assault counselor training, the sexual assault prevention program, and sexual assault nurse examiner (SANE) coordination. You can also access publications, read recent news, and find ways to take action.

Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice (Salt Lake County, Utah) — The Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) provides funding through a competitive grant program to support the jurisdictional reform of approaches to sexual assault cases resulting from evidence found in sexual assault kits that have never been submitted to a crime laboratory. Visit this section of the SAI website to learn more about how SAI funds are used in Salt Lake County. You can find recent news as well as quarterly reports.

House Bill 119 (HB0119) | Utah Legislature | Utah.gov — View the full text of a bill that makes changes to the Sexual Assault Kit Processing Act regarding restricted kits that was introduced on January 22, 2018, by House Minority Assistant Whip Angela Romero. The bill seeks to modify the definition of restricted kit by mandating that every kit collected be processed unless a victim explicitly declines. The House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee voted 7-0 on January 25, 2018, to send the bill to the full House of Representatives for further debate.


Find a Sexual Assault Kit Processing Lawyer in Salt Lake City, UT

If you were arrested or believe that you could be under investigation for sexual assault in Utah, it is in your best interest to immediately retain legal counsel. Susanne Gustin Attorney at Law represents individuals throughout Weber County and Salt Lake County.

Salt Lake City criminal defense attorney Susanne Gustin can use any errors in the handling or testing of a sexual assault kit to possibly get your criminal charges reduced or dismissed. She can review your case and answer all of your legal questions when you call (801) 243-2814 or fill out an online contact form to schedule a free, confidential consultation.


This article was last updated by Jordan Anderson, on July 30th, 2018.

 

 

What Our Clients Have To Say