Using Evidence Collection Kits to Collect Evidence in Rape Cases

Thursday, 10 July 2008: 10:30 AM
Wendy K. Taylor, DNSc, RN , Health Sciences, California State University, Northridge, Northridge, CA

Learning Objective 1: discuss the rationale for using evidence collection kits.

Learning Objective 2: describe the steps in evidence collection.

The main objective in collecting evidence is to establish or refute a connection between the victim and the perpetrator, the crime scene and/or the objects used in the commission of a crime. Proper evidence collection and documentation can be the key to solving rape cases. Collecting evidence should be systematic and thorough in order to make sure that the highest quality of evidence is collected. In addition, a systematic and thorough approach helps to guarantee a complete and comprehensive examination, minimizes cross contamination and the loss of evidence.

Evidence needs to be carefully collected in a timely manner avoiding any contamination. All evidence needs to be accurately labeled, dried, packaged and secured, and the chain of custody maintained. Additionally, the history of the assault, a physical examination which describes any injuries, a summary of the findings and details of evidence collection, preservation and packaging must be carefully documented. Unfortunately, very few jurisdictions have standardized evidence collection protocols resulting in variations on how evidence is collected or the type of evidence that is collected. Therefore, it is recommended that sexual assault nurse or physician examiners use standardized evidence collection kits which provide the means for them to consistently use a systematic approach, conduct a thorough examination and collection of high quality evidence.