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New law would test backlog of North Carolina sexual assault kits

Backlogs in evidence testing and court wait times are a major issue in many state across the United States. In North Carolina, a bill designed to speed up the testing process on sexual assault kits is one step closer to becoming a law. If enacted, the law would establish a statewide tracking system of bodily evidence related to sexual assault investigations, known as "rape kits," and would require the testing of all those that are currently untested. 

According to the 2017 Sexual Assault Evidence Collection Kit Law Enforcement Inventory Report, there are 15,160 kits across the state that have not yet been tested. Advocates say that although testing the kits may not lead to a trial or conviction, knowing this step was taken may give some alleged victims closure on the state of their case. The bill passed its second House reading in early June and may soon become law in the state.

The report noted that kits cost $700 each to test. As such, the law would require a $10.6 million investment to test the backlog across the state. If enacted, the law would require all kits from Oct. 1 onward to be compatible with the new statewide system.

Advocates of alleged sexual assault victims believe that the testing of backlogged kits could lead to charges against potential assailants. North Carolina residents may find themselves involved in a trial related to such evidence should the bill pass. Those who are accused of such crimes in the state should contact a defense attorney to understand their legal options.

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