April 3, 2018 By Tara Law
A new law sponsored by Assemblymember Aravella Simotas (D- Astoria) has passed that will give sexual assault survivors extra time to seek justice.
As part of the passage of the state budget, which was finalized early April 1, a new law will require law enforcement agencies to preserve rape kits for at least 20 years, which can provide crucial evidence for sexual assault cases.
The extension will also require hospitals to keep rape kits for longer than 30 days–even in cases where the victim doesn’t press charges. Hospitals will be required to keep them for 20 years.
The law also creates a tracking system which notifies survivors about where their rip kits are stored and warns them when the storage period is about to expire. The law also requires New York State Office of Victim Services to reimburse hospitals for conducting the exams instead of victims.
“Preserving untested rape kits preserves a victim’s right to move forward with a prosecution of the perpetrator,” said Simotas. “No sexual assault survivor should ever be told that a prosecution is not possible because a rape kit was disposed of prematurely.”
Simotas has forwarded several bills designed to defend sexual assault victims’ rights. A 2016 law she sponsored requires law enforcement agencies to send rape kits to labs within 10 days of receiving them. The results must then be reported back within 90 days.
New York has no statute of limitations for rape or criminal sexual acts.