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- A Victim's Right to Choose
- What Happens to the Kit If a Victim Chooses NOT to Report to Law Enforcement?
- What is Required of the Medical Examiner (Physician or SANE) in Handling the Sex Crime Kit Evidence Collection Kit in a Non-Report to Law Enforcement?
- Is the Hospital Charged for Shipping the Non-Reported Kits to MUFSC by FedEx?
- What is the Role of Medical Examiner (Physician or SANE) in Handling the Chain of Custody of Non-Reported Kits?
- What Happens to the Kit at Marshall University Forensic Science Center?
- How does a victim initiate an investigation?
- What Should Happen if the Victim Does NOT Have the Kit Tracking Number?
- What Should Happen if the Victim Has Given the Kit Tracking Number to Law Enforcement?
A Victim's Right to Choose
Following WV Code $61-8B-16(5c), a victim of sexual assault is NOT required to participate in the criminal justice system or cooperate with law enforcement in order to have a forensic medical examination. The victim has the right to decide whether or not to report to law enforcement.
What Happens to the Kit If a Victim Chooses NOT to Report to Law Enforcement?
Sex crime evidence collection kits collected from victims who choose not to report the assault to law enforcement will be sent to Marshall University Forensic Science Center (MUFSC), where the collected evidence will be stored for potential future use. It is important to note that if liquid samples were collected as a part of the toxicology kit (blood and urine), the samples will have a limited life span and will degrade over time. Other samples collected as part of the forensic medical examination (swabs, etc) will have an unlimited lifespan if collected and dried properly.
Should the decision be made later to initiate an investigation in a non-reported case, the victim would need to contact law enforcement and provide the kit tracking number for law enforcement to be able to secure the sex crime evidence collection kit from MUFSC.
If an investigation has not been initiated within 24 months from its time of collection, the evidence collection kit will be categorized as "non-active." Samples collected as part of the forensic medical examination in "non-active" kits may be used for training purposes once all identifying information has been removed. After the 24 month time period, if the "non-active" sex crime evidence collection kit has not been used for training purposes, the victim can still request that an investigation be initiated. There is no statute of limitations on reporting a sexual assault in West Virginia.
What is Required of the Medical Examiner (Physician or SANE) in Handling the Sex Crime Kit Evidence Collection Kit in a Non-Report to Law Enforcement?
- 1. Have the patient mark the box on the Sexual Assault Information Form that indicates that the patient does NOT want to initiate or participate in any investigation relating to the sexual assault and initial on the line.
- 2. Have the patient sign and complete the "Non-Report to Law Enforcement for a Victim of a Sex Crime" form found in the WV Sex Crime Kit paperwork envelope on the bottom of the sex crime kit.
Be sure the kit tracking label is placed on all 3 copies of the "Non-Consent form." The pink copy of the form MUST be given to the patient to be able to track and identify the sex crime kit should the decision be made to report the sexual assault to law enforcement at a later time.
- 3. Finish the exam and complete all required information.
- All pink copies of the Sexual Assault Information form MUST be returned to the paperwork envelope on the bottom of the outside of the sex crime kit when completed. Seal the paperwork envelope with evidence tape.
- Fold and tape the copy of the Data Collection form to the outside of the kit.
- All yellow pages of the Sexual Assault Information form, the Non-Report to Law Enforcement Consent form, and the Inventory sheet must be returned to STEP 1: Sexual Assault Information Form envelope and placed in the kit.
- All white pages of the Sexual Assault Information and the Non-Report to Law Enforcement Consent form are placed in medical records at the hospital.
- 4. Seal the sex crime kit securely using the evidence tape provided following the directions in the sex crime kit instructions to protect and ensure the integrity of the specimens and the appropriate chain of custody.
- 5. Call Marshall University Forensic Center (MUFSU) at 304 691-8959, Monday through Friday, 8:00a.m.-5:00p.m. to report that a sex crime kit is ready to be shipped and to secure needed information for the mailing label.
- If additional boxes are needed to package evidence, such as bags of clothing, the physician, SANE or other hospital personnel should be prepared to find additional boxes or discuss it with the contact at MUFSC when calling for shipping information.
- 6. Get the sex crime kit ready to be mailed by doing the following: Place the sealed sex crime kit in the large FedEx mailing box. (FedEx mailing boxes will be provided to hospitals when the sex crime kits are shipped from the WV State Police Forensic Laboratory and the FedEx boxes should be stored with the sex crime kits.)
- Attach the pre-printed shipping label to the FedEx mailing box, making sure that all required information, including the FedEx shipping number from MUFSC, has been completed.
- Take the sex crime kit to the FedEx shipping and receiving area in the hospital once the kit has been boxed, sealed and labeled for shipment.
Date/time and initials should be recorded on the label at this time. If FedEx does have a shipping/receiving area in the facility, the examiner must contact MUFSC (304 691-8959) for directions on how to proceed.
Is the Hospital Charged for Shipping the Non-Reported Kits to MUFSC by FedEx?
No, the hospital will not be charged for the shipping costs. It is necessary to get the required shipping label information from MUFSC by calling 304 691-8959.
What is the Role of Medical Examiner (Physician or SANE) in Handling the Chain of Custody of Non-Reported Kits?
Medical personnel are responsible for initiating the chain of custody of all sex crime evidence collection kits, beginning at the time of collection. Each person who takes physical possession of the evidence collection kit becomes part of the chain of custody and may be called to testify in court.
What Happens to the Kit at Marshall University Forensic Science Center (MUFSC)?
Once received at MUFSC, the sex crime kit will be cataloged and held in a secure area. If an investigation has not been initiated within 24 months from its time of collection, the evidence collection kit will be categorized as "non-active" and may become a "training resource" available for training purposes once all identifying information has been removed. If the “non-active’ kit has not been used for training purposes after the 24 month period, a victim can still request that an investigation be initiated.
How does a victim initiate an investigation?
To initiate an investigation, the kit tracking number will be needed to be able to identify the sex crime kit. A victim can follow one of the following procedures:
- 1. Contact the local law enforcement agency.
- 2. Contact the local rape crisis center for information on how to proceed. Contact information for the rape crisis centers in WV can be found at www.fris.org.
- 3. Contact the West Virginia Foundation for Rape Information and Services at 304-366-9500 for information on how to initiate the investigation.
What Should Happen if the Victim Does NOT Have the Kit Tracking Number?
There are 2 options for securing the kit tracking number:
- 1. The victim will need to contact the medical record department at the hospital where the forensic medical exam was completed to secure the kit tracking number for law enforcement.
- 2. Law Enforcement will need to submit a written request for the sex crime kit tracking number on agency letterhead including the victim's name, the officer's name, agency, contact number and badge number to MUFSC explaining that a victim (ex. Jane Doe) wants to initiate an investigation but does not have the sex crime kit tracking number. The request should be addressed to:
- Attn: Non-Report SA Kit Program
- 1401 Forensic Science Drive
- Huntington, WV 25701
What Should Happen if the Victim Has Given the Kit Tracking Number to Law Enforcement?
Law Enforcement will need to download and complete the "Request to Transfer Sex Crime Evidence Collection" form that can be found at:
After completing the required information requested, law enforcement will decide to follow one of the three options for having the sex crime kit evidence collection kit transferred from MUFSC. (A copy of the chain of custody will be included with the Sex Crime Evidence Collection Kit.)
- Direct Transfer of the Sex Crime Evidence Collection Kit to the WV State Police Forensic Laboratory from MUFSC via FedEx. (A WVSP Case Submission Form 53 must be submitted to the WVSP Forensic Laboratory prior to the transfer of the evidence collection kit.)
- Transfer of the Sex Crime Evidence Collection Kit to the Investigating Agency. (The Sex Crime Evidence Collection Kit would be transferred to the Investigator at the agency address via FedEx. It would be the Investigating Agency's responsibility to transport the kit to the WVSP Forensic Lab in Charleston.)
- Personal Pick-up from MUFSC. (The investigator will travel to Huntington, pick up the Sex Crime Evidence Collection Kit and deliver the kit to the WVSP Forensic Lab in Charleston.)
The request for transfer of evidence MUST be mailed and received by MUFSC before any evidence can be transferred.
Attn: Non-Report SA Kit Program
1401 Forensic Science Drive
Huntington, WV 25701