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What are a Sexual Assault Survivor’s Reporting Options?

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What reporting options does my friend, family member and/or loved one have in Colorado?

In the state of Colorado, survivors of sexual assault have a variety of reporting options. Colorado recognizes that sometimes, survivors need time to know what it is they want to do, and to understand what is available to them.

There are three “reporting” options available to adults aged 18-69 years old, who are not deemed at-risk by state law, if they choose to seek medical care and have evidence of the assault collected. In two of the options, survivors can seek medical care, have evidence collected, and not be asked to work with or even speak with the law enforcement. The term “reporting” is used for these options, but only one of them means they would be “reporting” to law enforcement. In each case, survivors will be asked to sign a consent form for the reporting option they are choosing as well as providing their consent to send their sexual assault evidence kit for testing.

Ways to Report

Federal and state law provides survivors with the following options if they seek medical care:

Report their experience anonymously:

This option, often called anonymous reporting, enables your friend, family member and/or loved one to seek assistance from a sexual assault nurse examiner or forensic nurse examiner program and participate in a medical forensic exam. What’s important to know if your friend, family member and/or loved one chooses this option, is their name is not written on the outside of the sexual assault evidence collection kit and they remain anonymous to the law enforcement.

With this choice, your friend, family member, and/or loved one’s sexual assault evidence collection kit will not be sent for testing and, instead, will be stored at the law enforcement agency in the jurisdiction where the crime occurred for a minimum of two years. They will be given a case number they can use to retrieve their sexual assault evidence collection kit if they decide at a later date, they would like to work with law enforcement on their case. This case number should also be written in their medical file, in case your friend, family member, and/or loved one loses it. This enables your friend, family member, and/or loved one to call the SANE or FNE program they visited to retrieve it if they are ready to talk with law enforcement. As a support person for your friend, family member, and/or loved one who chooses this option, you may also want to document the case number and store it in a safe place as a back-up should the medical facility not be able to locate the number.

Report their experience to law enforcement but request they do not investigate the assault at this time:

This option, often called medical reporting or non-investigative reporting, allows your friend, family member, and/or loved one to have a medical forensic exam, including evidence collection, if they would like, but not work with law enforcement at that time. It also allows them to have their evidence tested, if they would like, at an accredited crime lab. Under this option, law enforcement will get your friend, family member, and/or loved one’s name and contact information, but they do not have to speak with them if they do not want to. Sometimes, law enforcement would like to meet your friend, family member, and/or loved one and give them their card and make sure they are okay. There is no requirement your friend, family member, and/or loved one agree to this. The sexual assault evidence collection kit will be sent for testing at a crime lab within 21 days of its receipt by the law enforcement agency unless your friend, family member, and/or loved one does not give or withdraws their consent for testing.

Report to the law enforcement and work with them on an investigation:

This is the reporting option most of us know. It involves your friend, family member, and/or loved one speaking with a patrol officer, and perhaps a sex crimes detective, at the hospital and then having a follow up interview with the detective a few days later.

Your friend, family member, and/or loved one may have options, depending on the county, to speak with a victim advocate. Some victim advocates work for the law enforcement agency, and some are community-based. Both can provide them your friend, family member, and/or loved one with emotional support, assist them with applying for Colorado Crime Victim Compensation (CVC) funds, and explain how the law enforcement investigation will proceed.  A law enforcement advocate is not a confidential resource, so it can be helpful to also connect your friend, family member, and/or loved one with a community-based victim advocate for confidential support.

Under this option, a sexual assault evidence collection kit will be sent for testing at a crime lab within 21 days of its receipt by the law enforcement agency unless the survivor does not give or withdraws their consent for testing.

At a Glance Reporting Option Recap: ( Friends and Family)

QuestionAnonymous ReportingMedical ReportingLaw Enforcement Reporting
Does the survivor need to speak with the law enforcement?NoNoYes
Is the survivor’s name listed on the sexual assault evidence collection kit for the law enforcement to see?NoYesYes
Who pays for the MFE?A combination of insurance and the SAVE fund, or just the SAVE fund. Federal and state law prohibits survivors receiving a bill for the evidence collection portion of the exam. (Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-3-407.5 (b))A combination of insurance and the SAVE fund, or just the SAVE fund. Federal and state law prohibits survivors receiving a bill for the evidence collection portion of the exam. (Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-3-407.5 (b))A combination of insurance, law enforcement, and Colorado Crime Victim’s Compensation. Federal and state law prohibits survivors from receiving a bill for the evidence collection portion of the exam. The law enforcement agency in the jurisdiction where the crime occurred must pay for evidence collection (C.R.S. §18-3-407.5(1)).
Is the survivor’s evidence tested?NoYes, as long as the survivor consents to testing. Current state law requires law enforcement to send the kit for testing within 21 days of receipt (Colo. Rev. Stat. §24-33.5-113) or store the kit for at least two years if the survivor does not consent to testing (C.R.S. §18-3-407.5(3)(c))Yes, as long as the survivor consents to testing.
How long is the sexual assault evidence collection kit stored?Current state law requires law enforcement in the jurisdiction where the crime occurred to store the kit for a minimum of two years.Current state law requires law enforcement in the jurisdiction where the crime occurred to store the kit for a minimum of two years.Current state law requires law enforcement to store the kit in the jurisdiction where the crime occurred for a minimum of two years unless there is an active investigation and/or prosecution occurring, in which case it must be sent for testing within 21 days of receipt.
Can a survivor change their mind and work with law enforcement at a later date?Yes, they can use the case number they are given to locate the kit and start an investigation.Yes, they can use the case number they are given to locate the kit and start an investigation. Often, the testing results of the sexual assault evidence kit can factor heavily in a survivor’s decision to move forward with an investigation. As their victim advocate, you can support the survivor in getting their results. Law enforcement does not always call survivors when they receive the kit back from the crime lab. Yes, if they decide they need more time or are not able to participate in an investigation at this time, they can step back and their case will be inactivated until they are ready.