A bill working its way through the Washington state legislature took a big step forward when it was set for a committee hearing. The law, which would provide funding for expediting rape kit testing, would help those accused of domestic violence and rape by drastically reducing the waiting times necessary for potentially exculpatory evidence.
House Bill 1166 Scheduled for Hearing
The proposed law is House Bill 1166, which aims to support the survivors of sexual assault. However, this legislative effort is unlike similar bills that aim to protect assault victims at the expense of the people they are accusing of sexual assault – instead of cutting into an accused person's due process rights, the bill takes several steps to expedite the discovery process in the investigation and ensure that the evidence contained in rape kits does not get destroyed.
The preservation of this important evidence can help innocent people who have been accused of rape show that they were not the ones who did the deed. Additionally, it will help to reduce the uncertainty and social stigmatization that people face who have been accused of rape. By providing evidence that is far more reliable than a victim's often foggy memory, rape kits can help wrongly accused people show that they are innocent.
Backlog of Rape Kit Evidence
The bill aims to resolve an important issue in rape and domestic violence law in the state of Washington--a huge backlog of rape kits that still need to be tested. According to the Washington attorney general, there are nearly 6,500 rape kits across the state that still need to be tested. Some of them date back several years.
House Bill 1166 would require rape kits to be tested within 45 days and actually provides the means necessary to follow up on such an ambitious political promise. The law would allocate $13 million to the Washington State Patrol over the next two years to test more of the kits – enough to build a new testing lab in Vancouver and staff it with scientists.
The goal is to eliminate the rape kit backlog by the year 2022.
How the Bill Can Help Those Accused of Rape and Domestic Violence
For people who have been accused of domestic or sexual violence or rape, House Bill 1166 would drastically cut short the wait time between an allegation and a trial. For those who are unable to post bail or who are denied bail outright, reducing the amount of time to test a rape kit from more than a year to 45 days is not a small difference. Additionally, as rape kits become easier and quicker to test and use as evidence in Washington, more cases will rely on them over inaccurate witness testimony that is fraught with problems and that often leads to wrongful convictions.
Steve Karimi Defends Those Accused of Sexual Violence
If you have been accused of rape or domestic violence in Washington, hiring a lawyer to represent you in court is a must if you want to protect your future. Call Seattle defense lawyer Steve Karimi at (206) 621-8777 or contact him online.
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