Preserving any available evidence, after an assault allows you or your friend to leave open the option for criminal prosecution in the future without the obligation to take that step. Because some kinds of evidence may only be collected within a short time period after an assault, delaying action to preserve evidence immediately reduces the chances for a successful criminal prosecution in the future. The optimal time window for the collection of evidence is less than 72 hours.
For Evidence Collection, it is encouraged that you –
- Save all of the clothing you were wearing at the time of the assault and do not wash them.
- Place each item of clothing in a separate paper bag.
- Do not use plastic bags.
- Do not disturb anything in the area where the assault occurred.
- Evidence can be collected at an emergency room and you can decide later whether or not you want to press criminal charges.
- Write down as much as you can remember about the circumstances of the assault, including a description of the assailant, the assailant’s identity if you know it, and the use of threats or force.
It is best to AVOID engaging in any of these activities as they may wash away critical evidence:
- Brushing your Teeth
- Eating or Drinking
- Changing Clothes
The medical providers will, with your permission, collect physical evidence to be used if you decide to prosecute. Collecting this physical evidence is called a “rape kit.” This cannot be done at Health Services, but must be done at an emergency room or hospital. Depending on the types of sexual contact that occurred, the search for physical evidence may include taking samples from the vagina, mouth, or rectum to test for sperm cells and semen.If you think you were drugged or consumed a sedative-like substance, ask the medical provider to take a urine sample. Other evidence may be obtained from fingernail scrapings, foreign matter on your body, and the clothes you were wearing at the time of the assault. All exam findings are completely confidential and can only be released with your written consent. If you have visible injuries, you may be asked to have photographs taken. Photographing injuries is important because by the time your assailant is prosecuted, the injuries may have healed.
The exam can be done up to five days post assault even if you have showered or done any of the other things listed above.
You have various confidential counseling resources on and off campus that can help and guide you through this process. See our counseling page below
If you have any questions about preserving evidence or evidence collection you can contact our Office of Anti-Violence Initiatives whom are confidential at 609-771-2272 or email the Assistant Director, Michelle Lambing, at email@example.com.