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CS/CS/SB 636 — Evidence Collected in Sexual Offense Investigations

by Appropriations Committee; Criminal Justice Committee; and Senators Benacquisto, Flores, Joyner, Bradley, Gibson, and Evers

This summary is provided for information only and does not represent the opinion of any Senator, Senate Officer, or Senate Office.

Prepared by: Criminal Justice Committee (CJ)

The bill requires that a sexual offense evidence kit collected in a sexual offense investigation be submitted to the statewide criminal analysis laboratory system for forensic testing within 30 days after the evidence is received by a law enforcement agency if a report of the sexual offense is made to the agency, or when the victim or his or her representative requests that the evidence be tested.

Testing of the sexual offense evidence kit must be completed no later than 120 days after submission to a member of the statewide criminal analysis laboratory system.

A collected sexual offense evidence kit must be retained in a secure, environmentally safe manner until the prosecuting agency approves the kit’s destruction.

The victim, or his or her representative, shall be informed of the purpose of testing and of his or her right to demand testing. The victim shall be informed by either the medical provider conducting the physical forensic examination for purposes of evidence collection for a sexual offense evidence kit or, if no kit is collected, a law enforcement agency that collects other DNA evidence associated with the offense.

By January 1, 2017, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and each lab within the statewide criminal analysis laboratory system, in coordination with the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence, must adopt and disseminate guidelines and procedures for the collection, submission, and testing of DNA evidence obtained in connection with an alleged sexual offense.

The guidelines and procedures must include:

  • Standards for packaging evidence for submission to the laboratories for testing;
  • What evidence must be submitted for testing, which would include a collected sexual offense evidence kit and possibly other evidence related to the crime scene;
  • Timeframes for evidence submission including the 30 day deadline for collected sexual offense evidence kits as set forth in the bill;
  • Timeframes for evidence analysis including the bill’s requirement that testing of sexual offense evidence kits must be completed no later than 120 days after submission; and
  • Timeframes for evidence comparison to DNA databases.

The newly-created s. 943.326, F.S., does not create a cause of action or create rights for a person to challenge the admission of evidence or create an action for damages or relief for a violation of the new section of law.

If approved by the Governor, these provisions take effect July 1, 2016.

Vote: Senate 36-0; House 114-0