2005 Violence Against Women Act State law NRS 449.244 NRS 217.310
Do your current practices fit within the VAWA guidelines? Will you need to make changes? Will you need to include new disciplines?
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?
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
Safety First – Does the victim need medical attention – Is there an ongoing threat from perpetrator Do mandated reporting law apply?
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
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
Use caution to avoid influencing memory Observe cultural and developmental differences Reuniting the victim with the non-offending parent or guardian
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.
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
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
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
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
No Law Enforcement Involvement Law Enforcement – Storage Only Law Enforcement – Anonymous/Blind Report
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.
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
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?
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?
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
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
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
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
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
Not the same as a third-party report Victim is involved just not identified
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
Clarify role of community-based advocate Enact community-wide protocols for response Provide cross-training for first responders Public education campaigns
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
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.
The victims name; The perpetrator’s name; The location of the incident; Any facts which support reporting person’s belief that an assault occurred.
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?
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.
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?
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?
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.
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.
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
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
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.
Andrea Sundberg Executive Director Nevada Coalition Against Sexual Violence (702) 990-3460 firstname.lastname@example.org Dorene Whitworth Consultant Nevada Coalition Against Sexual Violence (775) 721-4691