Contact Us
    CONTACT US

    Please use the contact form to send us an email - and receive a response within 12 hours.

    Emergency? Call 720-220-2277 (24/7)








Map To Our Office
Read Out Blog
Case Evaluation
Charged With A Crime?

Testing the Alleged Victim of a Rape Allegation for Drugs and Alcohol – The SANE Exam

Drug and Alcohol Screening by the SANE Nurse – Rape Kit investigations in Colorado

Is the alleged “victim” given a test for drug and alcohol during the Rape Kit Exam?

This is a key issue in defending charges of Rape in Colorado. How intoxicated was the victim? Was the victim on Drugs? How clearly was she thinking? Was she high when she had sexual relations with my client?

The policy underlying these issues is set by the Sex Assault Nurse in the standards set out by the national organization of SANE nurses – it is – unbelievably to NOT test for drugs and alcohol because the defense may use this information against the victim at trial. However the nurse WILL jot down physical observations and the th tubes of blood are available to the wise defense attorney for testing on motion to the Court.

The SANE national policy on alcohol/drug testing of the alleged victim of a rape:

Drug and alcohol screening may be obtained for two purposes. These are for medical-legal liability and as crime evidence.

Crime evidence. The SANE will ALWAYS draw two extra tubes of blood for potential use as crime evidence. These are placed in the rape kit and labeled “hold for alcohol/drug screen.”

Medical-legal concern.

An alcohol or drug screen will ONLY be run Stat in the ED when there is a medical-legal concern that the victim is intoxicated and cannot be discharged without liability. The SANE will always document on the SANE Exam Report the presence of other indicators of intoxication such as:

steady or unsteady gait;

coherent or incoherent speech;

orientation or disorientation to person, place, or time;

any odor of alcohol on the breath;

intact memory or lack of memory for recent or past events; and any statements concerning drug or alcohol use before, during, or after the sexual assault.

Procedure

If the SANE is concerned that the victim is under the influence of mood-altering substances that may impair her judgment to the point of making it unsafe to discharge her from the ED, she will consult with a physician and draw blood for drug or alcohol testing. This specimen will be run by the ED or hospital laboratory prior to discharging the client.

In all other cases, the blood will be placed in the rape kit for later analysis by the crime laboratory, if necessary. In these cases where the client does not appear intoxicated, the SANE will explain to the client that she is drawing blood so that if the assailant attempts to say she consented to exchange sex for drugs, or she was so intoxicated that she does not remember consenting, there will be evidence to dispel his defense.

Rationale

Drug and alcohol screening of sexual assault victims has historically been controversial because this information has the potential to be used against the victim to blame or shame her or to attempt to impugn her testimony in court. Unfortunately, drugs and alcohol are today being intentionally used more frequently by assailants as a weapon to overcome the resistance of a potential victim. As we better understand this behavior, we also better understand the necessity of obtaining blood for drug and alcohol evidence.

When intoxication is suspected by medical personnel, the victim must be tested prior to discharge from the ED to avoid medical-legal liability for releasing an individual who is legally intoxicated and may be a harm to themselves or others. Blood is used instead of urine because of the preference of the crime lab for analysis and storage.

Be sure to check with the local crime laboratory personnel. Drug and alcohol screens are not run routinely as they are very expensive tests and can be run at a later time by the crime lab if the level of victim intoxication becomes a question when the case goes to court

 

H. Michael’s Take

The SANE nurse is supposed to be an independent reporter of the facts. If you read the rationale – it is clear that they are siding with and are influenced by the intent of the prosecution to win the case and ignore the possibility of false allegations. This can be put to good use in cross examination of the police, the nurse and the victim at trial in a Colorado Rape Trial Case.

Experienced Colorado Sexual Assault Criminal Defense Lawyer – Rape Allegations Defense


Other Articles of Interest:

If you found the information provided on this webpage to be helpful, please click my Plus+1 button so that others may also find it.

___________________________
H. Michael Steinberg Esq.
Attorney and Counselor at Law
The Colorado Criminal Defense Law Firm of H. Michael Steinberg
A Denver, Colorado Lawyer Focused Exclusively On
Colorado Criminal Law For Over 30 Years.
DTC Quadrant Building
5445 DTC Parkway, Penthouse 4
Greenwood Village, Colorado, 80111
Primary Web Site:  http://www.HMichaelSteinberg.com
Colorado Criminal Law Blog:  www.Colorado-Criminal-Lawyer-Online.com
Main:  303.627.7777
Cell:  720.220.2277
24/7 Pager:  303.543.4433
FAX (Toll Free):  1.877.533.6276
Always investigate a lawyer's qualifications and experience before making a
decision to retain that lawyer or, for that matter, any professional ...in any field.