Senator DIANE B. ALLEN
District 7 (Burlington and Camden)
Senator JAMES BEACH
District 6 (Camden)
Assemblywoman ANNETTE QUIJANO
District 20 (Union)
Assemblywoman PAMELA R. LAMPITT
District 6 (Camden)
Assemblywoman LINDA STENDER
District 22 (Middlesex, Somerset and Union)
Assemblywoman VALERIE VAINIERI HUTTLE
District 37 (Bergen)
Assemblywoman LINDA R. GREENSTEIN
District 14 (Mercer and Middlesex)
Senators Weinberg, Gordon, Greenstein, Stack, Beck, Assemblymen Coughlin, Diegnan, Schaer, Assemblywoman Wagner, Assemblymen Rudder, Conaway and Delany
Clarifies that sexual assault victims are not responsible for any costs of forensic sexual assault examinations or related services.
CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT
An Act concerning forensic sexual assault examinations and amending P.L.1981, c.256 and P.L.2001, c.81.
Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:
1. Section 1 of P.L.1981, c.256 (C.52:4B-22) is amended to read as follows:
1. a. Every State, county, and municipal police department and hospital or other place of emergency medical care shall have available and shall post in a public place information booklets, pamphlets or other pertinent written information, to be supplied by the Victims of Crime Compensation Agency, relating to the availability of crime victims' compensation including all necessary application blanks required to be filed with the agency.
b. Included in the information supplied by the Victims of Crime Compensation Agency shall be information for victims of sexual offenses. This information shall contain the location of rape crisis centers in all geographical areas throughout the State and shall instruct victims of sexual offenses that if a rape crisis center is not available in a victim's immediate geographical area, the victim may contact the appropriate county victim-witness coordinator appointed by the Chief of the Office of Victim-Witness Advocacy established pursuant to P.L.1985, c.404 (C.52:4B-39 et seq.). The information shall also provide that victims will not be charged any fee for services that are directly associated with a forensic sexual assault examination, including routine medical screening, medications for prophylaxis of sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy tests, emergency contraception, supplies, equipment and use of space.
Unless the victim requires immediate medical attention, this information shall be personally conveyed to the victim of a sexual offense by a representative of the hospital or place of emergency care before a medical examination of the victim is conducted, or by a representative of the police department before the victim's statement is taken, to afford the victim the opportunity to arrange to have assistance from the rape crisis center or county victim-witness coordinator during these procedures. Hospitals shall be held harmless from suits emanating from a hospital's carrying out the obligation to convey information to victims of sexual offenses.
"Rape crisis center" means an office, institution or center offering assistance to victims of sexual offenses through crisis intervention, medical and legal information and follow-up counseling.
c. Every police department shall, upon the filing of a report of a violent crime, make available to any victim information concerning crime victims' compensation.
(cf: P.L.2007, c.95, s.24)
2. Section 4 of P.L.2001, c.81 (C.52:4B-52) is amended to read as follows:
4. The program coordinator shall:
a. Coordinate the county Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner program in accordance with standard protocols for the provision of information and services to victims of sexual assault developed by the Attorney General pursuant to subsection d. of section 6 of P.L.1985, c.404 (C.52:4B-44);
b. Perform forensic sexual assault examinations on victims of sexual assault in accordance with the standards developed by the Attorney General and appropriate medical and nursing standards of care;
c. Designate one or more licensed physicians or certified forensic sexual assault nurse examiners to perform forensic sexual assault examinations on victims of sexual assault in accordance with the standards developed by the Attorney General and appropriate medical and nursing standards of care;
d. Develop and implement standardized guidelines for forensic sexual assault examinations performed by designated physicians or certified forensic sexual assault nurse examiners in the county;
e. Develop and implement a standardized education and training program to provide instruction to members of the county Sexual Assault Response Team established pursuant to section 6 of this act which shall include, but not be limited to, instruction in the following areas:
(1) the importance of a coordinated, multi-disciplinary response to a report of sexual assault;
(2) the policies and procedures which govern the responsibilities of each team member;
(3) the psychological effects of sexual assault and rape trauma syndrome on the victim and the victim's family and friends;
(4) the collection, handling and documentation of forensic evidence; and
(5) confidentiality issues associated with the treatment of a victim of sexual assault and the investigation of a report of sexual assault;
f. Establish, in cooperation with licensed health care facilities, private waiting rooms and areas designated for forensic sexual assault examinations and the provision of rape care services in the licensed health care facilities participating in the program;
g. Develop, in cooperation with licensed health care facilities, protocols for the storage of forensic evidence;
h. Provide appropriate services to victims of sexual assault, including the opportunity to tend to personal hygiene needs, obtain fresh clothing and speak with a rape care advocate prior to and during any medical procedure or law enforcement investigation, unless the victim requires immediate medical attention, as appropriate;
i. Collaborate with law enforcement officials and the county rape care program to ensure that the needs of victims of sexual assault are met in a compassionate manner; [and]
j. Participate in regular meetings of the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Program Coordinating Council established pursuant to section 7 of this act; and
k. Develop and implement procedures to ensure that victims of sexual assault are not charged any fee for services that are directly associated with forensic sexual assault examinations, including routine medical screening, medications for prophylaxis of sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy tests, emergency contraception, supplies, equipment and use of space.
As used in this section and section 6 of this act, "rape care advocate" means a victim counselor, as defined pursuant to section 3 of P.L.1987, c.169 (C.2A:84A-22.14), who specializes in the provision of rape care services.
(cf: P.L.2001, c.81, s.4)
3. This act shall take effect immediately.
This bill would clarify that victims of sexual assault who undergo forensic sexual assault exams are not responsible for any costs of the exams.
P.L.2001, c.81 (C.52:4B-50 et seq.) established the Statewide Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner program (“SANE”). Under the statute, each county provides forensic sexual assault examinations to sexual assault victims. The examinations are conducted by physicians or certified forensic sexual assault nurse examiners.
The intent of the SANE program is to ensure that the needs of sexual assault victims are met in a compassionate manner and that forensic evidence is collected and handled appropriately so that it can be used in prosecutions.
Under the statute, the Attorney General promulgates standards and protocols for the county programs. Currently, these standards provide that victims are not charged any fee for services that are directly associated with forensic sexual assault examinations, including routine medical screening, medications for prophylaxis of sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy tests, emergency contraception, supplies, equipment and use of space. This bill would codify this provision.