Importance of Preserving Evidence
Physical evidence is crucial in helping to prosecute assailants in cases of rape or sexual assault. Physical evidence must be collected in a timely manner by a certified medical facility.
Prior to a medical/legal exam, victims of rape or assault should not:
- Change clothes,
- Use the toilet (if possible),
- Smoke, or
- Clean the bed/linen/area where they were assaulted
if the offense occurred within the past 96 hours, so that the evidence may be preserved. If victims do not opt for forensic evidence collection, health care provider can still treat injuries and take steps to address concerns of pregnancy and/or sexually transmitted diseases.
Victims of stalking should save evidence such as:
- Any letters,
- Phone calls,
- Social media postings (Facebook, Twitter, etc),
- Computer screenshots,
- Voicemails, or any other form of evidence that would be helpful.
As time passes, evidence may dissipate or become lost or unavailable, thereby making investigation, possible prosecution, disciplinary proceedings, or obtaining orders of protection related to the incident more difficult.
If a victim chooses not to make a criminal complaint regarding an incident, the or she nevertheless should consider speaking with the University’s Department of Public Safety (DPS) or other law enforcement agency to preserve evidence in the event that the victim changes his or her mind at a later date.
A Sexual Assault Forensic Examination (SAFE) will preserve evidence in case the student decides to pursue criminal charges and may be done up to 84 hours after an assault.
Don’t urinate before going to the hospital. Date rape drugs leave your body quickly. Rohypnol stays in the body for several hours, and can be detected in the urine up to 72 hours after taking it. GHB leaves the body in 12 hours. Take from http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/date-rape-drugs.html#h
If a student is sexually assaulted, preserving any available evidence, including the results of SAFE, blood tests for “date rape” drugs, and/or testing urine, allows the student to leave open the option of criminal prosecution in the future without obligating the student to make an immediate decision.
Some kinds of evidence may only be collected within a short period of time after an assault, delaying action to preserve evidence immediately after an assault may reduce the chances for a successful criminal prosecution in the future.
While submitting to a SAFE medical exam, and/or other testing may be emotionally traumatic in the immediate aftermath of an assault, some local hospitals have specially trained clinicians who are experienced in helping survivors through the process.
Local SAFE provider and exam costs:
Northeast Regional Medical Center
315 S. Osteopathy
Kirksville, MO 63501
Phone: (660) 785-1000
Information Regarding SAFE Exams