Big Sky Roundup

Montana law grants sexual assault survivors right to evidence kit information

By: - April 21, 2021 8:37 am

The Montana state capitol in Helena, Montana. (Photo by Eric Seidle for the Daily Montanan.)

Sponsored by Rep. Alice Buckley, D-Bozeman, a bill that ensures sexual assault survivors have current information about their evidence kits has become law.

Gov. Greg Gianforte signed House Bill 310 into law earlier this month.

When she introduced the bill earlier this session, Buckley said it built on legislation the Montana Attorney General helped bring in 2019. That legislation was unanimously approved, and House Bill 310 also was approved unanimously in both chambers.

The earlier bill allowed victims to receive contact information for the officer investigating their case, to know whether their case was submitted to the office of the prosecuting attorney for review, whether the case was closed, and the documented reason for closure, among other rights.

The 2021 bill inserted a line in existing code that notes survivors have the right to know the current status of their sexual assault evidence kits.

At the hearing, the Montana County Attorneys Association described the change as an important step for victims. The Montana Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence also expressed support for the update.

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