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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. 
Texas Department of Public Safety

The Texas Department of Public Safety stores evidence collected during medical forensic exams with victims who have not yet decided to participate in the criminal justice process. The evidence is stored for a period of two years, and then destroyed. Among other sample documents, their website provides:

  • Instructions for packaging and mailing the evidence
  • Instructions for the release of sexual assault evidence
  • A form to submit evidence to the crime laboratory for a non-reported sexual assault (it is not analyzed)
  • A form listing the services provided during the exam (along with associated costs)
  • A consent form to release sexual assault exam evidence
Anonymous, Third Party Reporting Materials from Duluth, MN

Community professionals in Duluth have implemented a fully functioning protocol for anonymous, third party reporting. Sexual assault victims can therefore obtain a medical forensic examination without filing a formal report to law enforcement. This allows DNA and other evidence to be stored indefinitely in the event a victim decides to report at a later time. The multidisciplinary team in Duluth, led by the staff of PAVSA (Program for Aid to Victims of Sexual Assault), has developed a variety of materials to implement this protocol that can be tailored for use in other communities:

Evidence Log and Consent to Release from UCSF

The Trauma Recovery Center (TRC) at the University of California, San Francisco has long been providing medical forensic examinations for sexual assault victims who have not yet decided to participate in the criminal justice process. Evidence collected during these exams is stored by the TRC, and if the victim decides to participate, it is transferred to law enforcement. To facilitate this process, the TRC has developed an Evidence Storage Log and a Consent Form to Hold / Release Evidence to Law Enforcement.

Crime Laboratory Quality Assurance Forms

These forms are used by crime lab personnel to evaluate the quality of evidence and documentation from a sexual assault medical forensic examination (i.e. a “rape kit”). They offer feedback to health care providers who conduct these exams and submit evidence (e.g., Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners, Sexual Assault Forensic Examiners, Emergency Department physicians). The samples provide two alternative formats -- one from San Diego, California and one from Kansas City, Missouri.

Additional Quality Assurance Forms for crime lab personnel to use in evaluating the evidence submitted from a medical forensic examination can be found at the website for the SAFE-TA Project, which is funded by the Office on Violence Against Women and administered by the International Association of Forensic Nurses (IAFN). They can be found, along with many other resources, by clicking on the “Resources” tab and entering the “Form Library".

Instructions for Mailing Evidence Without a Law Enforcement Report

Two states have developed materials to provide instructions for mailing evidence to the state crime laboratory when a forensic examination is conducted without a report to law enforcement. They may be helpful for other jurisdictions implementing a similar procedure for transferring evidence. The instructions developed for the state of Virginia even include detailed pictures to illustrate the process, as well as a consent form for sexual assault victims to sign documenting their understanding of the process. While many community professionals are not aware of it, these procedures for mailing evidence are a standard practice for many law enforcement agencies; what is new in this context is the fact that the evidence is being mailed by forensic examiners rather than law enforcement investigators.

Service Agreements for Contract SANEs

We have also compiled several template MOU and/or SANE service agreements for hospitals that do not have their own SANE program but are interested in contracting with SANE nurses. These templates are drawn from a broad range of programs, offering a sense of the diversity that can be seen in free-standing facilities, as well as community-based and hospital-based forensic examiner programs. They are provided in Word format, so you can easily adapt them for use in your own community. Please note that they have been redacted to protect the identity of the individuals and organizations that provided them. Additional resources include the following:

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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