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Sexual assault cases have historically been subject to long waits for forensic results, causing undue trauma to the waiting victims and violating the due process of those accused of such crimes. Luckily, this may now be changing. Under Senate Bill 316, which went into effect in March, all newly collected rape kits must be submitted to a crime lab within 30 days of law enforcement determining that a crime has been committed.
This law is in the best interests of everyone involved. For one thing, the Ohio criminal justice process is streamlined. Victims get swift justice that they deserve. Suspects are either cleared or indicted faster, ensuring that false accusations don’t hang over an innocent person’s head for years. Law enforcement is better able to make a successful case while evidence can still be collected.
In addition, erroneous convictions become less rampant, as the forensic evidence that could clear innocent people becomes available during the first stages of an investigation. As law enforcement continues to adjust to the new laws, the hope is that practices for sexual assault testing in Ohio will continue to improve.
These new improvements are part of a larger push to improve testing practices for sexual assault kits across the state. Over the past few years, efforts to improve the speed and efficiency of sexual assault kit testing have increased dramatically under Attorney General Mike DeWine’s Sexual Assault Kit (SAK) Testing Initiative. Under Senate Bill 316, Ohio law enforcement agencies have been also required to submit all remaining untested sexual assault kits for forensic testing within one year.
As of this month, more than 8,000 sexual assault kits have been tested successfully, resulting in over 3,000 identifiable matches. As these individuals begin to be prosecuted, more victims get the justice they deserve, and serial rapists are identified and taken off the streets to protect our families. In the meantime, sexual assault testing for new cases will not be backlogged due to provisions for ongoing cases.
With all these changes, we hope that justice in sexual assault cases will continue to improve. Still, forensic evidence alone does not tell the whole story in any criminal case, so it is just as important to improve practices in other parts of law enforcement investigations as well. In the meantime, anyone accused of sex crimes in Ohio must be careful to get the best defense possible to ensure a fair trial. If you have been accused of a sexual assault of other sex crime, call the experienced criminal defense lawyers at Luftman, Heck & Associates at today for a free consultation on your case to find out how we may be able to help.