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New directive requires DNA evidence from sexual assaults to be preserved for 20 years in NJ

By Mike Dougherty,

2023-03-14

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NEW JERSEY (KYW Newsradio) — New Jersey Attorney General Matt Platkin is changing the way the state handles sexual assault investigations.

Under a new directive from Platkin, effective immediately, DNA evidence from sexual assaults will now be preserved for 20 years in the state. Previously, evidence was held for five years.

“Twenty years reflects, frankly, current best practices,” Platkin said. “We have no statute of limitations on sexual assault in New Jersey, and that’s for good reason.”

Platkin says sexual assault is one of the most traumatic experiences a person can have, and because each person handles and processes it differently, the state must keep the prosecution window open for victims who need time to come forward.

“Every survivor suffers unimaginable trauma, and that trauma can be exacerbated if law enforcement doesn’t take a trauma informed approach to that work.”

His directive also prohibits police from declining to collect evidence in cases where they believe the sexual encounter was consensual, or if there is no known suspect.

“Those reasons no longer apply, so we are not going to allow them.”

He said they’ll continue to use the most advanced tools they can to make these cases wherever victims and survivors are willing to come forward.

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