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EVAWI > Resources > Forensic Compliance > Evidence Retention

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. 
 
Untested Evidence and Cold Case Investigation

This training module is designed to help communities address the complex challenges of untested evidence in sexual assault cases. While the material is largely written with reference to cold cases, much of the guidance applies equally to current sexual assault cases and investigations that have been recently inactivated or suspended. Specific guidance is offered for notifying victims that their investigation has been re-opened, keeping victims informed of the status of their case, and providing ongoing victim support throughout the criminal justice process.

Model Policy Materials on Evidence Retention

EVAWI created model policy materials on Evidence Retention and Disposition and/or Removal to provide law enforcement agencies guidance in this area. The materials include sample language to use when developing an agency policy, as well as instructional commentary and template materials. It can therefore be used as an educational tool as well as a resource to assist in the development of policies, protocols, and training materials.

New Jersey Attorney General’s Office Directive

On July 10, 2014, the New Jersey Attorney General's Office published this outstanding Directive revising the standards for evidence retention in cases where the victim has not yet decided to report to law enforcement. Prior standards required law enforcement agencies or prosecutors' offices to retain such evidence for a minimum of 90 days. The Directive outlines the notification procedures that must be followed before destroying evidence in these cases and specifies the information that should be collected from victims at the time of the exam, regarding their preferences for follow-up contact.

Urban Institute Study on Evidence Retention

The Urban Institute published a research brief on evidence retention issues entitled VAWA 2005 and Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Exams: Kit Storage Issues in 2014. This brief is part of a full report, entitled Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Exams and VAWA 2005: Payment Practices, Successes, and Directions for the Future, which examines how states are meeting the goals of VAWA provisions regarding medical forensic examinations.

Texas Department of Public Safety

In Texas, evidence collected during a medical forensic exams of a victim who has not yet decided to participate in the criminal justice system is stored by the Texas Department of Public Safety. Sample documents that might be useful for other jurisdictions include instructions for packaging and mailing the evidence, and releasing it to law enforcement. Forms are also provided to submit evidence to the crime laboratory (without analysis), bill the state agency for specific services, and release evidence to law enforcement. These documents can easily be adapted for use in other communities.

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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