Sexual assault test kits will have to be retained for 50 years starting in October under new law

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Statutes of limitations still vary widely based on the age and severity of the crimes committed.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed off on Sen. Linda Stewart’s bill to protect evidence from alleged sexual assaults for half a century.

SB 764, approved Friday by the Governor, requires the material to be “retained for a minimum of 50 years after the collection date” for those who do not report sexual assault initially.

“Within 30 days after collecting such a kit, the medical facility or certified rape crisis center that collected the kit must transfer the kit to the department, which must maintain the kit in compliance with this subparagraph. A sexual offense evidence kit that is transferred and retained pursuant to this subparagraph must be stored anonymously, in a secure, environmentally safe manner, and with a documented chain of custody,” the bill stipulates.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement will be tasked with storing the kit.

“The 50-year DNA retention limitation for possible DNA evidence in non-reported sexual offenses provides a date certain for evidence disposal by the department while allowing a non-reporting alleged victim time to decide to report the sexual offense,” a committee bill analysis explains.

The bill takes effect in July.

Statutes of limitations vary regarding the actionability of any late claims, with certain cases of sexual battery or assault against minors having no time limit, with limitations ranging from one to four years for crimes against adults based on the criminal classification of those acts.

“Throughout my time in the legislature I have worked for survivors of sexual assault and with FDLE to streamline the retention of and access to sexual evidence kits. This final installment was brought to me by the department and would standardize retention times for sexual assault kits for persons that choose not to immediately report the crime to law enforcement,” said Stewart.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


5 comments

  • MH/Duuuval

    May 11, 2024 at 11:09 pm

    What is the state law about how long kits can be held before the contents must be processed? At one point Florida had an embarrassing number of kits that had not been processed after many years.

    Happy Mother’s Day, Linda!

    Reply

  • Sundance

    May 12, 2024 at 3:03 pm

    I am not into the trophy stuf,,,f.it happens. I think some units lack sensitivity training and blame the shocked or stunned victims
    They can talk rudely.
    I don’t like the way ease dropping goes either with a lot of ☝️

    Reply

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  • Dont Say FLA

    May 14, 2024 at 8:20 am

    If they’re required to be stored anonymously, what’s the point? Maybe you get a DNA match (or whatever kind of match exists 49 years from now), but you won’t have a victim because you won’t have the victim name or DNA due to mandatory anonymity.

    “Sir you are under arrest for sexually assaulting somebody, though we cannot say who it was because we have no idea but it was definitely somebody”

    Reply

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