Sexual Assault Response Bill Passes Legislature
A bipartisan bill to encourage the reporting of sexual assault in Illinois has passed both houses of the Illinois legislature and will be sent to Gov. Bruce Rauner for final approval. The bill is intended to improve the response of 911 operators, first responders, and law enforcement to sexual assault victims through implementing training, policies and procedures. It is also designed to improve procedures for the transmission of sexual assault evidence from hospitals to law enforcement agencies.
Sexual Assault Reporting
The goal of the bill is to increase the rate of reporting and prosecution in sexual assault cases in Illinois. According to statistics by the Bureau of Justice, in 2014, only 34 percent of sexual assault cases were reported across the nation. Often, this is because victims do not assume that their stories will be believed. The bill is aimed at encouraging victims to come forward and report incidents of assault to the police and at increasing successful prosecution of assault cases.
The purpose of Senate Bill 3096 is to improve the response to sexual assault and abuse cases and to preserve evidence. The bill makes several changes to current Illinois policies, including the following:
- Police officers must make a written report of every reported sexual assault, which must include certain specified information.
- Victims may request updates on the status of the testing of their evidence, and police must respond unless it would compromise an ongoing investigation.
- Survivors may consent to the testing of their sexual assault forensic evidence and provide the results to law enforcement for up to five years after the assault, instead of 14 days. If a victim is under age 18, he or she has five years after turning eighteen. Evidence will be preserved until the five years have expired.
- Local and state police, first responders, and 911 operators must complete victim-sensitive sexual assault and sexual abuse training.
- Law enforcement agencies must develop evidence-based, trauma-informed, victim-centered policies and procedures for dealing with reports of sexual assault. These policies must comply with the guidelines set by the office of the attorney general, the Illinois Law Enforcement Training Standards Board, and the Illinois State Police.
- Hospitals who receive rape kits must notify law enforcement within four hours that the hospital has possession of sexual assault evidence.
Senate Bill 3096 was sponsored by Sen. Scott Bennett, D-Champaign. Attorney General Lisa Madigan and the Joint Sexual Assault Working Group, which was created to address the problem of underreporting of sexual assault, assisted in drafting the bill. It has received bipartisan support, and has even been supported by the public defenders association, who support the training provisions in order to encourage thorough and accurate investigations.
If you have been charged with a sexual offense, it is important that you speak with a skilled Naperville criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Contact Law Office of Glenn M. Sowa, LLC today to schedule your confidential consultation to discuss your case and your options.