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The 190th General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

AN ACT RELATIVE TO PRESERVATION OF EVIDENCE FOR VICTIMS OF RAPE AND SEXUAL ASSAULT

     Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same as follows:
     SECTION 1.  Section 97B of chapter 41, as appearing in the 2014 Official Edition, is hereby amended by striking out the third paragraph and inserting in place thereof the following 3 paragraphs:-
     At the time the evidence is obtained, a hospital licensed pursuant to chapter 111 shall inform a victim of rape or sexual assault that the evidence of rape or sexual assault preserved in a kit shall be kept for a period of not less than 15 years.  This notice shall be provided to the victim in writing by the hospital.
     A governmental entity, including a local law enforcement agency, a district attorney’s office or any other official body of the commonwealth or of a county, city or town, that is in possession of forensic evidence, as defined in section 220 of chapter 111, that is collected for its potential evidentiary value during the investigation of a rape or sexual assault shall retain that forensic evidence for the length of the statute of limitations for the identified crime whether or not that crime has been charged, and in no case shall the forensic evidence be retained for less than 15 years. Each governmental entity shall retain all such forensic evidence in a manner that is reasonably designed to preserve the forensic evidence and to prevent its destruction or deterioration.
     The director of the crime laboratory within the department of state police and the forensic sciences advisory board established by section 184A of chapter 6, shall promulgate regulations governing the retention and preservation of forensic evidence by a governmental entity. The regulations shall include: (i) standards for maintaining the integrity of the materials over time; (ii) the designation of officials at each governmental entity with custodial responsibility; and (iii) requirements for contemporaneously recorded documentation of individuals having and obtaining custody of the forensic evidence.
     SECTION 2.  The director of the crime laboratory within the department of state police shall report on the feasibility of and the requirements for establishing a single location or multiple regional locations for the retention and preservation of all forensic evidence collected in the commonwealth. The report and any recommendations shall be filed with the clerks of the senate and the house of representatives, the chairs of the joint committee on the judiciary and the chairs of the house and the senate committees on ways and means not later than January 1, 2018.
     SECTION 3.  This act shall apply to all forensic evidence collected and retained for its potential evidentiary value in the investigation of a rape or sexual assault, including any such forensic evidence collected and retained before the effective date of this act. Nothing in this act is intended to amend, modify or render ineffective section 16 of chapter 278A of the General Laws.

Approved, October 19, 2016