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Leyva Bill Requiring Rape Kit Testing Passes Senate Public Safety Committee

SB 1449 Helps Ensure Justice, Put Rapists Behind Bars

SACRAMENTO – The Senate Public Safety Committee today passed important legislation authored by Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino) that will require law enforcement agencies and forensic laboratories to promptly analyze and test all newly collected rape kit evidence in California.

Following federal best practices, SB 1449 ensures that sexual assault victims in California will have equal access to the swift submission and analysis of forensic evidence associated with their cases.  Under the requirements of the proposal, newly collected rape kits must be submitted within 20 days and tested no later than 120 days after receipt.  Promptly testing DNA evidence in rape kits will prevent the development of backlogs of forensic evidence in evidence rooms or laboratories and can identify an unknown assailant, link crimes together, identify serial perpetrators, and exonerate the wrongfully convicted.

“After a person is raped and agrees to undergo an exhaustive rape kit examination for DNA evidence possibly left behind by the attacker, it’s important that the rape kit is tested promptly so that the criminal process can continue and we can hopefully get the rapist off our streets and behind bars,” Senator Leyva said.  “Every rape victim deserves to have her or his rape kit tested within the specified period of time and it is simply unconscionable that any rape kit should be sitting on a shelf in a warehouse or evidence room somewhere while potentially critical evidence sits within the untested kit.  All rape victims deserve access to justice and SB 1449 is a vital step forward.  I thank my colleagues on the Senate Public Safety Committee for approving this proposal today and am hopeful that it will receive similar support in the weeks and months ahead.”

As a companion bill to SB 1449, AB 3118—authored by Assemblymember David Chiu and co-authored by Senator Leyva—will require all law enforcement agencies, medical facilities, crime laboratories, and any other facilities that receive, maintain, store, or preserve sexual assault evidence kits to conduct an audit of all sexual assault evidence kits in their possession.

Senator Leyva authored legislation signed into law to eliminate the statute of limitations on rape (SB 813) in 2016 and to criminalize sextortion (SB 500) in 2017.  The Senator is also currently leading efforts to ban secret settlements in cases of sexual assault, sexual harassment, and sex discrimination in California (SB 820) and protect victims of harassment from retaliation (SB 1038).

Sponsored by Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley, Joyful Heart Foundation and Natasha’s Justice Project, SB 1449 will next proceed to the Senate Appropriations Committee for consideration.