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Overview of Legislation
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1994. The law created funding for a variety of different programs and provided civil rights remedies for women who were victims of gender-based attacks.

In 2005 when the S.T.O.P. Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was reauthorized, it made a change in legislation that provided an allowance for victims of sexual assault to have Medical Forensic Exams (MFEs) completed without having to cooperate with law enforcement or participate in the criminal justice system. In response to this legislation, Colorado began paying for MFEs for medical reporting sexual assault victims in July, 2008. 

In 2008, Colorado passed HB 08-1217 in order to stay in compliance with the federal VAWA Reauthorization Act of 2005, as well as to provide a benefit to victims of sexual assault crimes and hopefully increase the number of victims that are willing to report the crime to law enforcement. HB 08-1217 states that victims of sexual assault are not required to participate in the criminal justice system or cooperate with law enforcement in order to receive an MFE. Victims may receive an exam from a number of medical facilities across the state with SANE nurses on staff (SANE Nurse Locations pdf, 314 KB). Victims will also not be charged for the evidence collection portion of the MFE.

As a result of HB-08-1217:
  • If a victim of a sexual assault crime wishes to receive an MFE but does not at the time of receiving the exam want to participate in the criminal justice system, they may go to a medical facility that provides MFEs to obtain this exam.
  • The victim of the sexual assault will not be charged for the evidence collection portion of the forensic exam.
  • The victim's name will be given to law enforcement and the victim can choose whether they want the evidence tested.
  • The victim may be charged for other medical expenses not related to the exam, such as the cost of medical treatments.
  • Under Colorado law, law enforcement must store the MFE kit for a minimum of two years.
  • An initially medically reporting victim can decide at a later date that they want to have the crime investigated and prosecuted.
In 2013, the Colorado Legislature passed HB13-1163 which created the SAVE program. The law mandates that Colorado Division of Criminal Justice (DCJ) administer a fund to assist medical reporting victims in paying the medical costs associated with a MFE. 

That same year, HB13-1020 was passed which addressed sexual assault evidence kit testing in two ways. First, it eliminated the Rape Kit Backlog. The backlog means all unanalyzed collected medical forensic evidence stored in any law enforcement facility in the State of Colorado. The second thing HB13-1020 does is ensure that sexual assault evidence is tested expediently and appropriately. Since the bill's inception, most rape kits are now submitted to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation unless the victim does not consent to evidence testing, or law enforcement has proven via an investigation that the report was not corroborated – the report has to be proven false, not simply that the investigation could not be proven to be true.

Most recently, on March 30, 2015, Governor Hickenlooper signed into law SB 15-128 which enables victims of sexual assault to receive a medical forensic exam without having to cooperate with, or provide their name to, law enforcement. This provision is known as "anonymous reporting." These victims also do not have to pay for the evidence collection portion of the medical forensic exam. 

As a result of SB 15-128:
  • If a victim of a sexual assault crime wishes to receive an MFE but does not at the time of receiving the exam want to participate in the criminal justice system, they may go to a medical facility that provides MFEs to obtain this exam.
  • The victim of the sexual assault will not be charged for the evidence collection portion of the MFE.
  • The victim's name will not be given to law enforcement.
  • The victim may be charged for other medical expenses not related to the exam, such as the cost of medical treatments
  • An anonymous reporting victim cannot choose whether the evidence collected is tested.
  • Under Colorado law, law enforcement must store the MFE kit for a minimum of two years.
  • An initially anonymous reporting victim can decide at a later date that they want to have the crime investigated and prosecuted.
  • The Sexual Assault Victim Emergency (SAVE) payment program (Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-3-407.5 (b):) can pay for associated medical costs related to the MFE and injuries sustained during the assault for both medical and anonymously reporting victims. 
More information on payment options can be found by visiting the Reporting Options page.