Mental Health Professionals
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What are a Sexual Assault Survivor’s Reporting Options?

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. Understanding these options will enable you to better educate your clients who might be considering reporting and/or seeking medical care.

There are three “reporting” options available to adults aged 18-69 years old (and who are not deemed at-risk by Colorado law) if they choose to seek medical care and have evidence of the assault collected. Evidence is best collected within seven days of the sexual assault. In two of the options, survivors can seek medical care, have evidence collected, and not be required to work with or even speak to law enforcement. The term “reporting” is used for these options, but only one of them means survivors 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 the sexual assault evidence kit for testing.

Ways to Report

Please familiarize yourself with the following options provided by federal and state law. These options are available to survivors if they choose to seek medical care:

Report their experience anonymously:

This option, often called anonymous reporting, enables survivors to seek assistance from a sexual assault nurse examiner (SANE) or forensic nurse examiner (FNE) and participate in a medical forensic exam. What’s important to know if survivors choose this option, is their name is not written on the outside of the sexual assault evidence collection kit and they remain anonymous to law enforcement.

With this choice, a survivor’s sexual assault evidence collection kit will not be sent for DNA testing at a crime lab and instead, will be stored at the law enforcement agency in the jurisdiction where the crime occurred for a minimum of two years per Colo. Rev. Stat. §18-3-407.5 (3)(c). If the jurisdiction is not known, the kit will be stored by the law enforcement agency in the SANE program’s jurisdiction.

Survivors 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 the survivor loses it. This enables the survivor to call the SANE or FNE program they visited to retrieve the case number if they are ready to talk with law enforcement.

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 survivors 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 at an accredited crime lab. Under this option, law enforcement will get their name and contact information, but survivors do not have to speak with law enforcement if they do not want to. Sometimes, law enforcement would like to meet survivors and give them a card and check they are okay, but there is no requirement survivors 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 the survivor does not give, or withdraws, their consent for testing. In which case, the kit should be stored by the law enforcement agency in the jurisdiction where the crime occurred for a minimum of two years per Colo. Rev. Stat. §18-3-407.5 (3)(c). If the jurisdiction is not known, the kit will be stored by the law enforcement agency in the SANE program’s jurisdiction.

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

This is the reporting option most of us know. It involves the survivor speaking with a patrol officer, usually at the hospital, if they have not already made contact. It may also involve speaking with a sex crimes detective at the hospital and having a follow up interview with the detective a few days later.

Under this option, a survivor’s 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. In which case, the kit should be stored by the law enforcement agency in the jurisdiction where the crime occurred for a minimum of two years per Colo. Rev. Stat. §18-3-407.5 (3)(c). If the jurisdiction is not known, the kit will be stored by the law enforcement agency in the SANE program’s jurisdiction.

At a Glance Reporting Option Recap: ( Mental Health)

QuestionAnonymous ReportingMedical ReportingLaw Enforcement Reporting
Does the survivor need to speak with law enforcement?NoNoYes
Is the survivor’s name listed on the sexual assault evidence collection kit for 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.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.A combination of insurance, law enforcement, and Colorado Crime Victim Compensation. Federal and state law prohibits survivors receiving a bill for the evidence collection portion of the exam.
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 in the jurisdiction where the crime occurred to store the kit 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. When survivors choose this option, they often do so because the results of the kit analysis will inform their decision whether or not to go forward. Sometimes, law enforcement does not notify the survivor their results have been received from the crime lab. Encourage them to stay in touch with their victim advocate who can assist them in retrieving this information. It can take up to six months for law enforcement to receive results from a 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.