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What goes into a ‘rape kit?’

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Who collects evidence contained in sexual assault kits?

Most sexual assault evidence in New Mexico is collected by specially trained Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners who work in community-based settings, rape crisis centers or the joint APD Family Advocacy Center.

If a SANE trained nurse is not available, emergency room nurses or physicians should be able to collect the evidence and documentation.

What is collected?

DNA evidence, including blood, semen and saliva is collected by swabbing portions of the victim’s body to aid in identifying the suspect and prove physical contact occurred.

Other physical evidence, including clothing fibers, fingernail scrapings and hairs may also be collected.

The victim’s clothing, particularly undergarments or clothing that has biological stains, can also be collected.

The victim’s blood can also be taken to determine if bloodstains belong to the victim or someone else.

Photographs of any injuries suffered by the victim will be taken.

How long does the exam and evidence collection take?

An exam typically takes between two and four hours. Medical attention always takes priority over the sexual assault exam. In addition to evidence collection and documenting injuries, the nurse offers preventive medications for sexually transmitted infections and emergency contraception, counseling and social services.

Are sexual assault victims required to have evidence collected?

No. A victim can stop or decline any portion of the exam. A victim, or guardian, has to give signed informed consent for the exam to proceed and can stop or decline any portion of the exam. A person can receive an exam without filing a police report.

How soon does a victim have to have an exam?

For adults and adolescents, the SANE exam is appropriate within 5 days of the assault – generally, the sooner the better, but the patient does have time to consider his/her needs. If the assault was recent and, if possible, the patient should not eat, drink, or shower – depending on the nature of the assault. The patient should bring the clothes they were wearing when they were assaulted.

Where are the sexual assault kits stored?

Police or Sheriff’s Department evidence rooms, until sent to a laboratory for testing.

Departments will store the evidence kits without a police report. APD stores kits that don’t have a corresponding police report for 18 months. The kits are not tested until a police report is filed.


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