Leyva Rape Kit Testing Bill Clears Key Assembly Committee

SB 1449 Passes Committee with Strong Bipartisan Support

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

SACRAMENTO – Earlier today, the Assembly Public Safety Committee approved 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 legislation, newly collected rape kits must be submitted within 20 days and tested no later than 120 days after receipt.  Promptly testing DNA evidence in newly collected rape kits will prevent the development of rape kit backlogs in evidence rooms or laboratories and can help to identify an unknown assailant, link crimes together, identify serial perpetrators, and exonerate the wrongfully convicted.

“It’s critically important that rape kits are tested soon after they are collected so that DNA evidence possibly left behind by the attacker can hopefully lead to putting rapists behind bars. Survivors of rape and sexual assault deserve justice and SB 1449 is a key component to making sure that justice is indeed a reality,” Senator Leyva said. “After a survivor has agreed to undergo a thorough and invasive rape kit exam, it is unacceptable that the rape kit would then sit untested for months or even years after the assault. I appreciate the continued support from legislators on both sides of the aisle for supporting this crucial public safety measure that will help to protect residents and communities across California.”

The 2018-2019 state budget recently approved by the Legislature includes $7.5 million in funding to determine the number of untested rape kits and to promptly test existing rape kits.  Coupled with available federal funding, these newly approved funds will help local and state agencies to test rape kits in California.

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 and supported by the California District Attorneys Association, California Sexual Assault and Forensic Examiners, California Statewide Law Enforcement Association, Center for Community Solutions, City and County of San Francisco, City of Sacramento, Courage Campaign, Crime Victims United of California, Equal Rights Advocates, Fiona Ma, Investigative Lead LLC, Los Angeles County Professional Peace Officers Association, National Association of Social Workers, National Organization for Women, Peace Officers Research Association of California, Peace Over Violence, Riverside Sheriffs’ Association, San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan, San Francisco Department on the Status of Women, Senator Dianne Feinstein, Services Employees International Union, Village Family Services, Women’s Foundation of California and many members of California’s congressional delegation, SB 1449 will next proceed to the Assembly Appropriations Committee for consideration.