June 5, 2008 – The Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act of 2005 (“VAWA 2005”), 42 U.S.C. Section 3796gg-4(d), provides that states may not “require a victim of sexual assault to participate in the criminal justice system or cooperate with law enforcement in order to be provided with a forensic medical exam, reimbursed for charges incurred on account of such an exam, or both” (the “VAWA 2005 forensic examination requirement”). Under this provision a state must ensure that victims have access to an exam free of charge or with full reimbursement, even if the victim chooses not to report the crime to the police or otherwise cooperate with the criminal justice system or law enforcement authorities.
All states must comply with the VAWA 2005 requirement regarding forensic examination by the statutory deadline of Jan. 5, 2009, in order to be eligible to receive STOP (Services, Training, Officers, Prosecutors) Violence Against Women Formula Grant Program funds. Information on this can be obtained at http://www.ovw.usdoj.gov/stop_grant_desc.htm.
Technical assistance to states on complying with the VAWA 2005 forensic examination requirement is available through the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MCASA) at http://www.mcasa.org/C/4/C4.htm or by telephone at (410) 974-4507. For further information on forensic examination requirements and other STOP Program requirements, visit http://www.ovw.usdoj.gov/docs/FAQ_FINAL_nov_21_07.pdf.