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Sexual assault survivor ‘bill of rights’ goes to governor

By CAROLINE BECK, Alabama Daily News

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The Senate on Monday gave final passage to House Bill 137 to create a sexual assault survivor “bill of rights” and set a requirement for how long law enforcement must preserve evidence from sexual assault cases.

The bill says victims have the right under state law:

  • To not be prevented from or charged for receiving a medical forensic examination;
  • To have the sexual assault evidence collection kit preserved without charge for at least 20 years or, if the assault occurred while a minor, until age 40;
  • To be informed by law enforcement of test results, such as DNA profile matches, from the examination kit if such information does not comprise or impede an investigation;
  • To receive notification from a law enforcement agency at least 60 days before a sexual assault evidence kit is disposed or destroyed;
  • To be granted preservation of an evidence kit for an additional 20 years if the survivor requests it.

“Sexual assault is a traumatic and life-changing experience, and its survivors often have to deal with interminable delays, unanswered questions, and feelings of being lost in the legal system as their cases are being resolved,” sponsor Rep. Chip Brown, R-Hollinger’s Island, said in a written statement. “With passage of this legislation, survivors of assault will be afforded the respect, attention, and timely information that they deserve.”

The bill now goes to the governor.

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