Theis bill would strengthen state’s sexual assault kit law

State Sen. Lana Theis

Bipartisan legislation introduced in the Senate Tuesday would improve the timeline for when law enforcement takes possession of sexual assault evidence kits and increase notification requirements to victims of sexual assault.

Currently, survivors of sexual assault may request that evidence kits be sent to law enforcement for testing and, if they do, health care facilities have 24 hours to notify local law enforcement of a kit’s availability and law enforcement has 14 days to take possession of released evidence kits.

Senate Bill 1194, introduced by Sen. Lana Theis, would require law enforcement to take possession of released evidence kits within seven days.

“Time is of the essence when it comes to solving sexual assault crimes,” said Theis, R-Brighton. “If a survivor requests that an evidence kit be tested, law enforcement should not delay in seeking justice. The sooner we can get criminals off the street, the sooner we can prevent additional assaults and bring peace of mind to those who have been victimized.”

Additional bills in the package would:

  • Require health care facilities in possession of a sexual assault evidence kit that has not obtained written consent from the victim to release the kit to law enforcement to inform them of its sexual assault kit evidence storage policy. It would also increase the storage time of unreleased kits from one year to two years.
  • Require a law enforcement agency that is in possession of a sexual assault evidence kit to twice notify the victim of its intention to dispose of the kit — the first time not less than 60 days, and then again not less than 30 days before disposal.

The legislation was referred to the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee, where Theis expects they will receive a hearing soon.

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Journalist Maria Stuart lives in Howell. She worked at The Livingston County Press/Livingston County Daily Press & Argus as a reporter, editor and managing editor from 1990-2009. These days, she runs The Livingston Post, and is often spotted holding court at Uptown Coffeehouse.

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