North Carolina Law Effective Immediately Mandates That Sexual Assault Kits Long Held in Storage Be Tested in Order to “Put Rapists in Prison”
A new law – which has recently been announced as going into effect immediately here in North Carolina – mandates that the state funds be put towards testing existing sexual assault kits that have been sitting in law-enforcement evidence storage in order to place more rapists in prison and get rid of – as well as prevent – a backlog of kits. The law is known as the “Standing Up for Rape Victims Act” of 2019, and was inspired in part by an audit, which determined that there were reportedly more than 15,000 untested kits located across North Carolina as of 2018.
Specifically, the law provides $6 million over the course of two years for these efforts, and requires all police and sheriffs to submit kits for testing within 45 days of receiving them. The hope is that this will inspire more sexual assault victims to come forward with allegations, as it is suspected that many have been hesitant to do so; thinking that the process will go on for years, and there will be no end to it. The law also mandates that the state crime laboratory be notified of an arrest or conviction that is made based on the DNA tests within 15 days of its occurrence. However, efforts like these bring up serious chain of custody issues, as well as questions concerning whether the DNA evidence was properly collected, as we discuss below.
Chain of Custody & Proper Collection and Storage Issues
Chain of custody refers to the process of evidence not only being properly collected, but stored in such a way as to not be tainted. Part of this involves closely monitoring every individual who comes into contact with the evidence.
There is also concern that additional evidence that is routinely collected to go along with what is included in the rape kits – which typically includes documentation of physical injuries and treatments – could very well be disconnected or completely missing when it comes to evidence being relied on in these kits to bring charges.
Contact North Carolina Defense Attorney Rashad Hauter If This Affects You
If you are charged with sexual assault as a result of an assault kit that has long been in storage and only recently tested, you need to speak with an experienced North Carolina criminal defense attorney, as evidence like this can be contaminated over time, and result in innocent people ending up in prison. Contact experienced North Carolina criminal lawyer Rashad Hauter today—he can provide you with the very best in legal advice and representation in order to ensure that your rights are protected.