STATE OF NEW JERSEY
PRE-FILED FOR INTRODUCTION IN THE 2016 SESSION
Senator NELLIE POU
District 35 (Bergen and Passaic)
Senator NIA H. GILL
District 34 (Essex and Passaic)
Imposes time constraints on submission and analysis of rape kits.
CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT
Introduced Pending Technical Review by Legislative Counsel.
An Act concerning sexual assault evidence and supplementing Title 52 of the Revised Statutes.
Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:
1. This act shall be known and may be cited as the “Sexual Assault Evidence Submission Act.”
2. As used in this act:
"Law enforcement agencies" means municipal, county, State or
federal law enforcement agencies involved in the investigation of sexual assault cases in this State.
"Sexual assault evidence" means evidence collected in connection with a sexual assault investigation, including, but not limited to, evidence collected during a forensic sexual assault examination.
“Superintendent” means the Superintendent of State Police in the Department of Law and Public Safety.
3. A law enforcement agency shall submit sexual assault evidence received in connection with the investigation of a criminal case within 10 business days of receipt to the Central Laboratory in the Office of Forensic Science in the Division of State Police or to a laboratory approved by the superintendent.
4. All sexual assault evidence submitted pursuant to section 3 of this act on or after the effective date of this act shall be analyzed within six months after receipt of all necessary evidence by the Central Laboratory in the Office of Forensic Science or other approved laboratory if sufficient staffing and resources are available.
5. a. Within 45 days of the effective date of this act, each law enforcement agency in this State shall provide written notice to the superintendent, in a form and manner prescribed by the superintendent, stating the number of sexual assault cases in the custody of the law enforcement agency that have not been previously submitted to a laboratory for analysis.
b. Within 180 days of the effective date of this act, appropriate arrangements shall be made between the law enforcement agency and the superintendent to ensure that all cases that were collected prior to the effective date of this act and are, or were at the time of collection, the subject of a criminal sexual assault investigation are submitted to the Central Laboratory in the Office of Forensic Science or to a laboratory approved by the superintendent.
c. Within 120 days of the effective date of this act, the superintendent shall submit to the Governor, Attorney General, President of the Senate, and Speaker of the General Assembly a plan for analyzing cases submitted pursuant to this section. The plan shall include, but not be limited to, a timeline for completion of analysis and a summary of the inventory received, as well as requests for funding and resources necessary to meet the established timeline.
6. The failure of a law enforcement agency to submit the sexual assault evidence collected on or after the effective date of this act within 10 business days after receipt shall not alter the authority of the law enforcement agency to submit the evidence or the authority of the Central Laboratory or other approved laboratory to analyze and type the genetic markers contained in or derived from DNA samples which are stored and maintained in the State DNA database and forwarded to the FBI for inclusion in CODIS in accordance with statute, rule, or regulation.
7. Sexual assault evidence submitted for analysis pursuant to this act shall be accompanied by the following signed certification:
"This evidence is being submitted by (name of investigating
law enforcement agency) in connection with a prior or current
8. The Attorney General shall develop guidelines governing the submission and analysis of sexual assault evidence as required by the provisions of this act.
9. This act shall take effect on the first day of the fourth month following enactment and its provisions shall apply to sexual assault evidence received by a law enforcement agency within 30 days preceding the effective date of this act.
This bill, to be known as the “Sexual Assault Evidence Submission Act,” would require municipal, county, State and federal law enforcement agencies to submit to the appropriate forensic laboratory evidence collected in the investigation of a sexual assault case within 10 business days. The bill requires this evidence, often referred to as a “rape kit,” to be analyzed by the lab within six months of when it is received if sufficient staffing and resources are available.
Under the bill, law enforcement agencies have 45 days to provide to the Superintendent of State Police, in writing, the number of sexual assault cases in the agency’s custody that have not been previously submitted to a laboratory for analysis. The superintendent and the agency then have 180 days to make appropriate arrangements to ensure the submission of this evidence. Within 120 days of the effective date of this act, the superintendent is required to submit to the Governor, Attorney General, President of the Senate, and Speaker of the General Assembly a plan for analyzing these submitted cases. The plan is to include a timeline for completing the analysis of the rape kits and a summary of the inventory received, as well as requests for funding and resources necessary to meet the established timeline.
A rape kit submitted for analysis as required under the bill must include a signed certification as follows: "This evidence is being submitted by (name of investigating law enforcement agency) in connection with a prior or current criminal investigation."
Guidelines issued by the Attorney General currently govern the handling of rape kits in this State. Under these guidelines, rape kit evidence is held for 90 days within which a victim can decide whether to release the evidence to law enforcement. The victim is informed of the county policy regarding time frames for the storage and possible destruction of evidence.