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Sexual Assault Examinations Without Police Involvement

Sexual Assault

This article explains how to get a sexual assault examination without making a police report.

If you are at least 18 years old, you can have a sexual assault exam without making a police report. You have the option to report the sexual assault at a later time, or not at all. Here, learn more about sexual assault exams and reasons you might choose to have an exam even if you do not report the sexual assault to police. 

The information in this article was compiled from content written by Texas Health and Human Services, the Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas Association Against Sexual Assault (TAASA), and Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN)

Revised by TexasLawHelp.org on December 30, 2022.  

What is a sexual assault exam?

A sexual assault exam includes two parts: forensic evidence collection to be used in the investigation of the criminal case, and medical care for the evaluation and treatment of injuries. 

During the medical portion of the examination, injuries or other medical conditions are identified and treated. Results from medical testing will be available from the medical facility where you have the exam.  

During the forensic portion of the examination, evidence is collected. The evidence may be used in an investigation.  

Depending on the nature of the assault, the following items may be collected during the exam: 

  • hair combings,  

  • swabs from areas of the body with potential DNA deposits,  

  • swabs from areas of genital contact,  

  • fingernail swabs/clippings,  

  • debris items, and  

  • clothing.  

Photographs may be taken of body surface injuries or genital injuries during the examination.  

Can I get a sexual assault exam without the police getting involved?

Yes. If you are at least 18 years old, you do not have to report the sexual assault to the police when you have a sexual assault exam.  

When a survivor has a sexual assault exam and does not make a police report it is called a “non-report sexual assault exam.” 

Why would I decide to have a sexual assault exam if I am not going to make a police report?

Sexual assault exams have benefits whether you make a police report or not. You may want to consider having a sexual assault exam because:  

  • Your health matters. Sexual assault can affect your physical health. You may have injuries and trauma related to the assaults that aren’t immediately visible. During an exam you can access treatment for these injuries, receive preventative treatment for STIs, and obtain emergency contraception to prevent pregnancy. 

  • You can have time to decide if you want to report. The decision to report the crime is entirely yours. It may take some time to decide what to do. Having a sexual assault forensic exam ensures that the forensic evidence will be safely preserved if you decide to report at a later time.  

  • If you decide to make a report at a later time, having the evidence preserved increases the likelihood of prosecution. The importance of DNA evidence in sexual assault cases cannot be overstated. Not only does DNA evidence carry weight in court, but it may prevent future sexual assaults from occurring. Even if the perpetrator is not prosecuted, their DNA may be added to the national database, making it easier to connect the perpetrator to a future crime. 

How do I get a non-report sexual assault exam?

Go to an emergency room and request a forensic medical exam. Notify the facility of your desire not to contact police. 

Which hospital can I go to?

Texas law requires every emergency room in the state to offer sexual assault exams. However, only some facilities have special nurses called sexual assault nurse examiners (SANEs). Receiving care from a certified SANE is best whenever possible, because SANEs are specially trained to collect evidence and provide compassionate care. If a victim goes to a facility that does not have a SANE, that facility must offer to transfer the victim to the nearest SANE facility. If a victim does not wish to be transferred to the SANE facility, the victim has the right to refuse a transfer and receive a sexual assault exam at the emergency room where she or he already is. 

To find out which local emergency rooms have SANEs, contact your nearest rape crisis center. To find a crisis center in your area, visit the Crisis Center Locator provided by TAASA. The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) also maintains a list of SANE facilities in Texas. Contact DSHS at 888-963-7111.

Do hospitals have to report sexual assaults to police?

There is no law requiring medical facilities to report sexual assaults of adults to law enforcement, so the decision to report is entirely the survivor’s. 

If a child (anyone younger than 18) has been sexually assaulted, that must be reported to law enforcement under Texas’ mandatory reporting laws. 

Is a non-report sexual assault exam confidential?

Yes. 

All evidence collected during the exam will be securely stored and only released with the survivor’s written consent. Information about a survivor’s visit to the hospital and the treatment they receive is also confidential. 

How long do I have to decide whether to report and release the evidence?

The Department of Public Safety (DPS) is required to store any evidence collected during a non-report sexual assault exam for either five years or until the survivor releases the evidence, whichever comes first. 

The fact that DPS only stores evidence for five years does not affect the amount of time a sexual assault survivor has to report her assault to police.  

The statute of limitation for sexual assault of an adult in Texas is ten years. 

There is no statute of limitation in cases of sexual assault of adults where evidence has been DNA tested and does not match the victim or any other person whose identity is readily determined. 

To learn more, visit the Non-Reported Sexual Assault Evidence Program page on the DPS website

How much does a non-report sexual assault exam cost?

A sexual assault examination has two parts: the medical portion, and the evidence collection (“forensic”) portion.  Under no circumstances should a survivor receive a bill for services related to evidence collection. The Department of Public Safety pays for the “forensic” portion of the exam and then seeks reimbursement from Office of the Attorney General’s Crime Victims’ Compensation fund.  

However, victims will also receive medical treatment that is unrelated to evidence collection (e.g. medication, stitches). Medical facilities will still bill victims for those portions of the exam that are purely medical.  

Victims who do report to police can receive reimbursement for the medical portions of the exam through the Crime Victims’ Compensation program. Victims who do not report to the police are not eligible to receive reimbursement for the medical portions of the exam through the Crime Victims’ Compensation program. 

Are drug tests conducted as a part of the exam?

Drug and toxicology screens will only be available through the hospital as a part of medical care. A victim should be informed that a drug/toxicology screen at the very sensitive levels possible through a forensic laboratory will not be conducted as a part of a non-report sexual assault examination.

If a victim thinks they may have been drugged, they may want to consider making a report immediately to law enforcement. 

More information

To find a crisis center in your area, visit the Crisis Center Locator provided by TAASA. Crisis centers can provide support, counseling, information and other services.  

Legal Aid for Survivors of Sexual Assault (LASSA) offers free and confidential legal advice and services by phone. Attorneys can also connect you to additional legal services in your area and other supportive resources. Call 844-303-7233. 

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