2021 Florida Statutes (Including 2021B Session)
DNA evidence collected in sexual offense investigations.
DNA evidence collected in sexual offense investigations.
943.326 DNA evidence collected in sexual offense investigations.—
(1) A sexual offense evidence kit, or other DNA evidence if a kit is not collected, must be submitted to a member of the statewide criminal analysis laboratory system under s. 943.32 for forensic testing within 30 days after:
(a) Receipt of the evidence by a law enforcement agency if a report of the sexual offense is made to the law enforcement agency; or
(b) A request to have the evidence tested is made to the medical provider or the law enforcement agency by:
1. The alleged victim;
2. The alleged victim’s parent, guardian, or legal representative, if the alleged victim is a minor; or
3. The alleged victim’s personal representative, if the alleged victim is deceased.
(2) An alleged victim or, if applicable, the person representing the alleged victim under subparagraph (1)(b)2. or 3. must be informed of the purpose of submitting evidence for testing and the right to request testing under subsection (1) by:
(a) A medical provider conducting a forensic physical examination for purposes of a sexual offense evidence kit; or
(b) A law enforcement agency that collects other DNA evidence associated with the sexual offense if a kit is not collected under paragraph (a).
(3) A collected sexual offense evidence kit must be retained in a secure, environmentally safe manner until the prosecuting agency has approved its destruction.
1(4) The department and each laboratory within the statewide criminal analysis laboratory system, in coordination with the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence, shall adopt and disseminate guidelines and procedures for the collection, submission, and testing of DNA evidence that is obtained in connection with an alleged sexual offense. The timely submission and testing of sexual offense evidence kits is a core public safety issue. Testing of sexual offense evidence kits must be completed no later than 120 days after submission to a member of the statewide criminal analysis laboratory system.
(a) The guidelines and procedures must include the requirements of this section, standards for how evidence is to be packaged for submission, what evidence must be submitted to a member of the statewide criminal analysis laboratory system, and timeframes for when the evidence must be submitted, analyzed, and compared to DNA databases.
(b) The testing requirements of this section are satisfied when a member of the statewide criminal analysis laboratory system tests the contents of the sexual offense evidence kit in an attempt to identify the foreign DNA attributable to a suspect. If a sexual offense evidence kit is not collected, the laboratory may receive and examine other items directly related to the crime scene, such as clothing or bedding or personal items left behind by the suspect. If probative information is obtained from the testing of the sexual offense evidence kit, the examination of other evidence should be based on the potential evidentiary value to the case and determined through cooperation among the investigating agency, the laboratory, and the prosecutor.
(c) The department shall, subject to appropriation by the Legislature, no later than July 1, 2023, create and maintain a statewide database to track the location, processing status, and storage of each sexual offense evidence kit collected after the implementation of the database that is accessible to law enforcement agencies and alleged victims and other persons listed in paragraph (1)(b). The database shall track the status of the kits from the collection site throughout the criminal justice process, including the initial collection at medical facilities, inventory and storage by law enforcement agencies or crime laboratories, analysis at crime laboratories, and storage or destruction after completion of analysis.
(d) The department shall adopt rules establishing the requirements for each entity that participates in the database. Law enforcement agencies, medical facilities, crime laboratories, and any other facilities that collect, receive, maintain, store, or preserve sexual offense evidence kits shall participate in the database, as required by the department.
(e) The department shall ensure that each alleged victim and other person listed in paragraph (1)(b) is notified of the existence of the database and provided with instructions on how to access it and informed that he or she is entitled to access to information regarding the alleged victim’s sexual offense evidence kit, including tracking information, testing status, and any DNA matches to a person deemed by investigators to be a suspect or person of interest. However, notification of a DNA match shall state only that a DNA match has occurred and may not contain any genetic or other identifying information. Such a notification may be delayed for up to 180 days if such notification would, in the opinion of investigators, negatively affect the investigation.
(5) A violation of this section does not create:
(a) A cause of action or a right to challenge the admission of evidence.
(b) A cause of action for damages or any other relief.
History.—s. 1, ch. 2016-72; s. 2, ch. 2021-213.
1Note.—Section 3, ch. 2021-213, provides that “[t]he Department of Law Enforcement may phase in initial participation in the statewide database for tracking sexual offense evidence kits created in s. 943.326, Florida Statutes, as amended by this act, according to region, volume of kits, or other appropriate classifications; however, all entities in the chain of custody of sexual offense evidence kits shall fully participate in the statewide database no later than 1 year after its creation. The Department of Law Enforcement shall apply for any grant funds available to assist in implementing the statewide database.”