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A well accepted time line for collecting sexual assault evidence is the 72 hour window.   Many sexual assault programs use this three day window as a guideline for collecting trace evidence. Many program elect to forgo collection after the three day period. We believe that doing so misses an opportunity to collect important trace evidence.  There are a few programs in the country that have decided to  expand the acute evidence collection window from 72 hours to 120 hours.  This increase in the window of evidence collection has some initial support in the  DNA research literature.  The reader is encouraged to research this on your on as we have insufficient time or space in which to explore a literature review. Suffice it to say that our program, Rape treatment center (TRC), of San Francisco General Hospital has elected to collect evidence up to five days post sexual assault.   We believe that with the increasing sensitivity of DNA and trace evidence evaluation methods this increase in the evidence collection period will lead to increase in prosecution efforts and result.  Clearly what will be needed in the future is a more detailed and scientific study examining the incidence of evidence retrieval at 3 days vs 5 days post assault.

One thought on “A push to change the acute evidence collection window in forensic sexual assault exams from 72 hours to 120 hours.

  1. Pingback: Ladyjustice Experiences the Ins and Outs of Evidence Collection « Donna R. Gore

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