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Forensic Compliance Resources

Note:  The information on this website is designed to:  (a) communicate the requirements of the Violence Against Women Act (as reauthorized in 2005 and 2013), and (b) offer recommended practices for implementation.  The goal is to highlight examples of communities striving to achieve a higher standard of the “spirit of the law,” rather than simply meeting the “letter of the law” for VAWA forensic compliance.  It is critically important that readers consult state laws and regulations, as well as local policies and protocols, because they may have additional requirements beyond those included in VAWA 2005 and VAWA 2013.  For more information specific to your state or territory, contact the STOP Grant Administrator or coalition of advocacy organizations providing services for sexual assault victims.  A listing is available from the website for the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. 
New Hampshire Protocol for Medical/Forensic Evaluation

New Hampshire offers this State Protocol on the care of patients who have experienced sexual assault. This protocol is a statutory mandate for all hospitals and physicians in the state of New Hampshire providing medical forensic exams to victims of sexual assault. The Protocol is continually being revised in an effort to improve evidence collection outcomes for patients who have experienced sexual assault, to maximize the continuity of care for patients who have experienced sexual assault.

Ohio Protocol for Sexual Assault Forensic and Medical Examination

This protocol was developed based on recommendations from Ohio experts and the National Protocol for Sexual Assault and Medical Forensic Examinations. It is intended for use by health care providers to ensure comprehensive care of sexual assault patients. The protocol includes a contingency plan for the handling of anonymous kits. Adult patients are informed of their right to decide whether or not to speak to law enforcement, and if they choose not to report the sexual assault, the hospital/facility may provide the date and general assault location to the law enforcement agency with jurisdiction, without giving the patient’s name, address, or other identifying information.

Also available is the General Consent Form and the Consent Form for Anonymous Evidence Collection, and a Model for Developing a Sexual Assault Community Protocol.

Nebraska Medical Sexual Assault Protocol

The intent of the Nebraska Medical Sexual Assault Protocol is to assist medical providers statewide with best practice standards around the medical forensic examinations. In addition to full law enforcement reporting, the protocol outlines procedures for a Partial Report with Evidence Collection (where evidence from the medical forensic exam is submitted to the laboratory for DNA testing, and any foreign DNA profiles potentially uploaded into CODIS) and Anonymous Reporting (where evidence is stored by law enforcement for 20 years, and no testing/investigation conducted unless the victim converts to full participating by contacting the agency).

Colorado Sexual Assault Evidence Collection Protocol

Modeled after the National Protocol for Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Examinations, the purpose of the Colorado state protocol is to assist providers with the consistent and complete collection of the sexual assault evidence collection kit, which is one part of a comprehensive medical forensic response to sexual assault patients. This protocol incorporates Colorado’s three options for reporting: Law Enforcement Report, Medical Report, and Anonymous Report, which do not apply to minors, or at-risk elders. The state protocol includes consent forms for victims to choose one of these three reporting options and document their consent to the medical forensic exam and/or testing evidence/release of results.

Virginia Guidelines and Tools for Forensic Compliance

This outstanding document provides detailed guidelines and tools to guide the integrated, multidisciplinary response to sexual assault. It is entitled: “Virginia’s Healthcare Response to Sexual Assault: Guidelines for the Acute Care of Adult and Post-Pubertal Adolescent Sexual Assault Patients” and archived by the Virginia Partnership for an Effective Response to Sexual and Domestic Violence. The Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services also provides answers to Frequently Asked Questions regarding Physical Evidence Recovery Kit (PERK) authorization and payment.

Maryland Forensic Compliance Guidelines

A statewide work group was convened by the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention (COCCP) in close partnership with the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MCASA), to develop the Maryland Forensic Compliance Guidelines. This detailed document provides answers to Frequently Asked Questions about forensic compliance (p. 13-18), as well a Recommended Model Policy, Flowchart, Special Considerations for Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) Members, and a number of other resources, including a review of Maryland law regarding mandatory reporting of sexual assault or abuse. Also corresponding to the Maryland guidelines is a Memorandum of Law prepared by the Sexual Assault Legal Institute within MCASA, to address Frequently Asked Questions regarding forensic compliance.

Minnesota Model Policies for Forensic Compliance

Through a two year STOP-funded project, the Sexual Violence Justice Institute (SVJI) at the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MNCASA) developed a number of materials to assist professionals in their state to achieve both the spirit and letter of the law with regard to forensic compliance. After providing basic contact information, visitors can access their document: Minnesota Model Policies for Forensic Compliance (updated November 2011) which specifically identifies ten decision points to guide local policy development. They also created an assessment survey to identify practice around the state, a Forensic Compliance Quiz for professionals, and a special forensic compliance website with information designed to address Frequently Asked Questions pertaining to how this issue is addressed in Minnesota. For more information, please contact MNCASA staff directly by emailing svji@mncasa.org or calling 800.964.8847.

This project is supported by Grant No. 2013-TA-AX-K045 awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed on this website are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.
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