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Andrea Sundberg Dorene Whitworth. 2005 Violence Against Women Act State law NRS 449.244 NRS 217.310.

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Presentation on theme: "Andrea Sundberg Dorene Whitworth. 2005 Violence Against Women Act State law NRS 449.244 NRS 217.310."— Presentation transcript:

1 Andrea Sundberg Dorene Whitworth

2 2005 Violence Against Women Act State law NRS 449.244 NRS 217.310

3  Do your current practices fit within the VAWA guidelines?  Will you need to make changes?  Will you need to include new disciplines?

4  What resources are available?  Where does the victim receive services?  Are hospital personnel aware of VAWA mandates?  Does LE work closely with victim services agency?  Are LE personnel trained in child interviewing?

5 Law enforcement response, 911 call, walk in School Counselor – Age of the victim may dictate response Victim Services Program Hospital Hotline Call Social services, welfare office

6 Safety First – Does the victim need medical attention – Is there an ongoing threat from perpetrator Do mandated reporting law apply?

7  Decide who is most appropriate to community with the adult victim ◦ Safety planning ◦ Discuss whether or not to have a forensic exam ◦ Discuss reporting options: whether to file immediately or delay reporting ◦ Provide referrals or other services within the community

8  Goal is to seek the truth  Location of interview is important  Child centered (use age-appropriate words)  Take time to build a rapport with the child  Use non-judgmental questions

9  Use caution to avoid influencing memory  Observe cultural and developmental differences  Reuniting the victim with the non-offending parent or guardian

10  Explain the purpose of the exam, e.g. evidence collection, time sensitivity, etc  Does the victim want the exam?  Victim should be notified that they can terminate the exam at any time.  Victim will incur no cost for the exam. Explain the benefits to collecting evidence now – preserve options.

11  Crime scenes may be investigated for before evidence is lost  Witnesses may be located and interviewed  Forensic evidence can be processed  Victim can access treatment and counseling under NRS 217.310  Can be empowering for some victims

12  Fear of further danger to self, family or others  Cultural beliefs  Financial dependence on perpetrator  Investigation may reveal illegal activity by victim, e.g. underage drinking, prostitution, immigration status, etc.  Difficulty facing perpetrator

13  Can access forensic exam and may access treatment and counseling while working to overcome trauma  Gives time for victim of address safety concerns and financial dependence  Evidence has been collected for potential prosecution

14  Thorough investigation can be difficult, witnesses become unavailable, memories fade  May affect the perceptions and responses of prosecutors and jurors  May influence the prosecutor’s ability to obtain a conviction

15  No Law Enforcement Involvement  Law Enforcement – Storage Only  Law Enforcement – Anonymous/Blind Report

16  Victim receives an exam/evidence is collected  Medical provider is responsible for storing evidence  Medical provider contacts victim assistance organization, if one is available, or coordinates for other non-medical services as needed.

17  Potential harm in promising an option that is not real  If LE is unwilling to truly accept a delayed report, this is not a real option for victims  If victim reports later, problems may arise in transferring evidence and initiating the investigation

18  How long will evidence be stored? How secured?  How will chain of custody be documented?  How will evidence be linked if victim decides to report?  When will kits be destroyed? Will victims be notified?  Does payment of exam costs require victim identification?

19  Forensic exam is available to victim regardless of whether they report  Examiner obtains incident number from law enforcement  Law enforcement is contacted when evidence is available for pickup  Law enforcement is responsible for storage  How long will evidence be held?  Will victim be contacted prior to destruction of evidence?

20  Requires multi-disciplinary collaboration to design and implement protocols that work effectively  May increase LE involvement making it more likely that an investigation will take place if the victim does convert to a standard report

21  Report is made to law enforcement  Victim provides as much or as little information about the incident but no identifying information for either victim or suspect.  Evidence is stored by law enforcement

22  Allows victims to “try out” reporting to police, taking the CJS process “one step at a time”  Avoids presenting victims with an “all or nothing” opening of reporting  Allows LE to document information during initial response, including victim response and demeanor  Avoids “delayed report” that is often later used to undermine the victim’s credibility – this just delays the ID

23  Offers LE an opportunity to explain their role and the process of investigation to the victim and answer questions;  Creates a process for reporting that is much more in line with victim’s process of trauma, disclosure and recovery  Especially critical for underserved victims  When treated with competence and compassion, victims may be more likely to convert to a standard report

24  Requires multidisciplinary coordination  Investigation initiated only after victim ID is revealed  May be investigated w/o victim’s approval if:  severe injuries are inflicted,  serial perpetrator is suspected,  case is considered high profile  intimate partner violence

25  Not the same as a third-party report  Victim is involved just not identified

26  Conflicting practices across the state  Perception that law enforcement is “shut out”  Perception that advocates discourage victims from reporting  Fear that victim will receive different information depending on access point  Fear that large numbers of victims will come forward and costs will skyrocket

27  Clarify role of community-based advocate  Enact community-wide protocols for response  Provide cross-training for first responders  Public education campaigns

28  Mandatory Reporting in Nevada ◦ NRS 202.882 ◦ Statutory age referenced: 12 years or younger ◦ Report must be made within 24 hours of knowledge ◦ A minor under the age of 16 is exempt from the mandatory reporting laws ◦ VAWA does not apply to child victims of sexual assault

29  Discussion with a teacher or school counselor  Revelation to an advocate after school presentation  Inquiring questions posed to a doctor, CPS worker, etc. Err on the side of caution – follow mandated reporting laws.

30  The victims name;  The perpetrator’s name;  The location of the incident;  Any facts which support reporting person’s belief that an assault occurred.

31  Does the victim have injuries that need immediate medical attention?  Does the victim want the forensic exam?  Does the victim want anyone present, e.g. advocate, family, friend, etc.  How much time has elapsed since the incident?

32  Although performed by a medical professional, a forensic exam is not a medical procedure;  A forensic exam is an evidence collecting procedure;  The forensic examiner is fulfilling a criminal justice role during the exam;  Independent advocacy is critical for the victim during the exam.

33  How much does a forensic exam cost? ◦ In Nevada the cost ranges from $250 to $3500 ◦ Cost is impacted by what is included in the exam ◦ What lab work should be included? ◦ Should testing be done for STD’s at time of exam?

34  What agency is the designated payment source for forensic exams?  Are charges handled differently for those victims who have chosen to delay a report?  Is the victim’s insurance ever billed?  Is payment ever declined? Reason?

35  Forensic exam cost should not exceed $1500  This is inclusive of examiner fees, facility costs, lab work and any prophylactic treatment deemed necessary;  This does not include emergency medical care necessary to treat injuries sustained as a result of the assault.

36  Nevada crime labs determine what is to be collected;  Rape kits provide for evidence to be documented and secured  Maintaining chain of custody of the evidence is critical to the prosecution of the crime;  Medical facility must have the means to secure evidence until law enforcement can retrieve the evidence;  Law enforcement should retrieve evidence in reported cases within 7 days.

37  Who is responsible for storage of kits?  How long will they be stored in cases where a report is not immediately filed?  Recommendation in Best Practices Guidelines: 90 days

38 Lack of Compliance jeopardizes funding: – STOP Violence Against Women Grant Program – Byrne Law Enforcement Grant Program Applies to all jurisdictions not just those receiving funding How might this impact future subgrants

39  Hold multi-disciplinary stakeholders meeting within your community;  Complete Self-Assessment Tool;  Developing VAWA Compliant policies at all agencies;  Ensure your jurisdiction is not jeopardizing funding to victims in our state.

40 Andrea Sundberg Executive Director Nevada Coalition Against Sexual Violence (702) 990-3460 Dorene Whitworth Consultant Nevada Coalition Against Sexual Violence (775) 721-4691


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