CARSON CITY – A bipartisan bill that would remove the statute of limitations on reporting and prosecuting sex crimes where DNA evidence has been collected is running into a partial snag because of the lack of a statewide standard on how long unprocessed rape kits must be retained.
Assembly Bill 142 would make Nevada the 27th state to eliminate the time limit for cases where a victim has undergone a forensic exam and DNA evidence has been collected. The state’s time limit for reporting cases that lack such evidence would remain at the current 20 years.
In Nevada, evidence kits — commonly called rape kits — are preserved in cases where sexual assault charges have been filed. The state has been working through a backlog of thousands of untested kits dating back more than three decades, announcing last week that 90 percent of that backlog had been eliminated.
But not all kits are automatically saved. In Clark County, for example, kits are disposed of after 30 days if they are not made part of a criminal case — for example, if a victim delays in filing charges.
Another pending bill, Assembly Bill 176, known as the “Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights,” would set a minimum four-year retention policy for all kits.
The main sponsors of the bill to end time limits, Assemblywoman Lisa Krasner, R-Reno, and Sen. Pat. Spearman, D-North Las Vegas, said they were open to amending it to address how long the kits must be kept. They presented the bill before the Assembly Judiciary committee Monday, joined by noted women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred.
Regardless of retention policies, advocates said the bill was a needed step toward eliminating the statute of limitations for all cases of sexual assault, as 10 states have done.
“I am contacted daily by victims who I am unable to assist because the statute has run in their state,” Allred told the committee.