NJ law agencies required to retain sex assault evidence for 5-years

By Maynard & Sumner, LLC of Maynard & Sumner, LLC posted in Sex Crimes on Tuesday, July 15, 2014.

In a directive issued by the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office, acting Attorney General John Hoffman has ordered county prosecutor’s offices and law enforcement agencies to maintain evidence collected from an alleged sexual assault for five years. Currently, the prosecutor’s office and law enforcement agencies are only required to maintain sex assault evidence for three months. Evidence that is not maintained, is destroyed. This is a statewide directive, and is to be applied uniformly by each county.

The AG’s Office reasons that some victims of sexual assault may be hesitant to pursue criminal prosecution or participate in an investigation due the emotional difficulties that arise from the incident. Therefore, maintaining evidence for at least five years allows the victim to pursue criminal charges if he/she changes his/her mind. The directive also allows for county prosecutor’s offices to maintain the evidence indefinitely per their discretion. By law, there is no statute of limitations on prosecuting a crime of sexual assault.

Various organizations throughout the State support this directive. The New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault applauded the AG’s Office’s dramatic increase to existing protocol, as they have been lobbying for this change since March 2014. The New Jersey Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL-NJ) has responded positively to this directive. Just as the evidence can be used to convict an individual of sex assault, it can also exonerate a person who is under investigation.

Source: “A.G. Office Orders Long Retention of Rape Evidence,” Michael Booth, The New Jersey Law Journal, July 11, 2014.

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