U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Beyond Forensic Evidence: Examining Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Exam Mechanisms that Influence Sexual Assault Case Outcomes

NCJ Number
Journal of Interpersonal Violence Dated: 2020
Date Published

This study used logistic regression in examining whether the presence of a sexual assault medical forensic exam (SAMFE) predicted the likelihood of achieving criminal case processing outcomes and whether the relationship of the SAMFE with criminal case processing outcomes was moderated by other legal and extralegal case characteristics. 


Despite the widespread use of sexual assault medical forensic exams (SAMFEs), practitioners and researchers continue to debate the role of SAMFEs and the evidence they provide in the investigation and prosecution of sexual assault cases. The current study used data from a review of sexual assault cases reported to police between 2015 and 2017 in two jurisdictions (n = 534). The study did not find evidence that the presence of a SAMFE in a case significantly predicted whether a suspect will be identified, arrested, or convicted overall, but it did find evidence of the SAMFE’s injury documentation value for arrest. Researchers and practitioners should account for the multiple ways SAMFEs can influence decision-making in future research and policymaking. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2020