Minnesota Law Sets New Standards For Testing Of Sex Assault Kits

Nov27

On August 1st, 2018, a new law took effect mandating that Minnesota law enforcement agencies must submit sexual assault examination kits to a forensic laboratory for testing within 60 days after receiving the kit.

There had been concerns among lawmakers regarding how Minnesota handles rape cases. As of August 1st, Minnesota law enforcement officials are required to access a sexual assault evidence kit from a clinic or hospital within 10 days following a rape, and the kit must be tested for DNA at a forensic laboratory within 60 days.

Untested Rape Kits Sitting In Police Storage

Past Minnesota sexual assault kits were often left unexamined by law enforcement. A 2015 audit carried revealed there were 3,482 untested rape kits in police storage across Minnesota dating back to the 1990s.

The new bill only requires testing when it has been determined by law enforcement that the rape kit result will provide evidentiary value to a criminal case. Should law enforcement determine the results of the rape kit will not provide significant evidence in the case, a county attorney must be consulted and a written explanation provided. Should an agency fail to meet the deadline, the admissibility of the results would not be affected in court.

New Testing Standards Are Just The Start Of A Wider Legislative Push

Rep. Marion O’Neill, R-Maple Lake, said the new testing standards – together with another law mandating that Minnesota motels and hotels train their employees to detect sex trafficking in the workplace – represent the start of a wider legislative push to change the state’s handling of rape allegations.

The new assault kit measure was sponsored by Rep. Marion O’Neill, herself a sexual assault survivor, when the results of the 2015 audit were revealed.

Giving Power To Sexual Assault Victims

The new law new requires that, upon written request from either the victim or the victim’s lawyer, victims must be provided access to basic information about the status of their exam kit, such as the date the kit was submitted to a laboratory and whether they were able to obtain a DNA profile.

References

Galioto, Katie. “New Minnesota Law Setting Standard for Testing of Sex Assault Kits to Go into Effect.” Star Tribune, Star Tribune, 28 July 2018, www.startribune.com/new-state-policies-take-effect-aug-1/489395421/.

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