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Presence of Victim Advocate During Sexual Assault Exam Summary of State Laws

NCJ Number
Charlene Whitman, J.D.
Date Published
March 2013
3 pages
This brief provides a summary of State laws that give sexual assault victims the right to have an advocate present during a medical forensic exam.
This brief focuses on the eight States that have enacted laws allowing sexual assault victims to have an advocate present during a medical forensic examination. The eight States that have passed such laws are California, Florida, Iowa, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Texas, and Washington. The rationale behind these laws is that advocates can play an important role for sexual assault victims by providing support and guidance as they move through the various stages of the criminal justice process. This support is crucial during the medical forensic exam when many victims can report feeling traumatized all over again. This brief identifies the different approaches that the States take when extending this right to sexual assault victims. While Florida, Oregon, Iowa, and Washington have established the victim's right to have an advocate present during the exam, the laws in these States do not specifically require medical personnel to notify the victim of this right. This is in contrast to New Jersey, New York, California, and Texas where State laws require that medical personnel inform victims of their right to have an advocate present during a medical forensic exam. The brief also mentions some of the concerns surrounding the presence of victim advocates at medical forensic examinations. Endnotes