Crime commission discuss collection of DNA evidence in sexual assaults, cigarette trafficking

Posted at 2:21 PM, Sep 05, 2012
and last updated 2012-09-05 14:37:39-04

RICHMOND, Va (WTVR) -- Today inside the General Assembly, the Virginia State Crime Commission took up several issues, including the collection of forensics in sex crimes and illegal cigarette trafficking.

The commission heard concerns surrounding the collection of DNA evidence in sexual assault cases.  Senate Bill 205 was first introduced this year during the General Assembly's regular session but was unresolved, eventually making its way in front of the crime commission. 

Up for discussion today is whether or not assault victims--unable to consent to a rape kit--for one reason or another to include: unconscious victims, minors or those who may have been abused by a parent or caregiver, can still have forensic evidence collected.

As it stands search warrants for some sexual assaults are required.  However when it comes to collecting evidence several nurses and an emergency room doctor addressed the commission today where they said, time is of the essence following an assault. 

Chairman of the commission, Delegate Robert Bell, agreed having to wait for a search warrant following a sexual assault could result in the loss of evidence as time passed.

"The evidence in a rape case often goes away very quickly if it's not collected, but you sometimes have rape victims who are not in a position where they are unconscious or they may be under alcohol or drugs and they can't give consent, so what do we do?" said Bell.

The commission also heard reports surrounding illegal cigarette trafficking and ways to fight the crime.  Delegate Bell said today's meeting offered the chance to examine the proposed policies.

The recommendations from the meeting will go to the legislature in time for the 2013 session, which begins in January.