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Legal options

Not all victims of rape and sexual assault wish to take legal or police action. Some just want medical assessment and health care. Adults (16 years and over) are encouraged to make the decision about legal action themselves. They can report the crime any time (even years) after the assault. However, if they wish to have a forensic examination to assist them in taking legal action, the collection of evidence is usefully done within 1 week and ideally as soon as possible after the assault.

No legal action or a police report with no further action taken

This option is for people who have been sexually assaulted and do not want to go through the legal process. They should be offered medical care to address concerns they may have in relation to the assault. Some of these concerns may include: pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections and the physical effects of the assault.

This medical care may be provided by:

  • General Practitioners
  • Hospital Emergency Department
  • Yarrow Place
  • SHine SA and other community health services

Legal Action

If the decision is to take legal action, the person will be advised to have a forensic medical examination.

Go to: Forensic medical examination for detailed information

This examination involves both medical care and the collection of forensic evidence which is important in the investigation of the assault. The forensic examination is generally only done up to a week after the alleged assault and is most useful if done within seventy two hours after the assault. The forensic examination can be a detailed and lengthy physical examination involving the taking of swabs for saliva and semen as well as samples of hair, blood and other substances.

In Adelaide, forensic medical examinations are performed by Yarrow Place as we are the only sexual assault service in the state. If you are in a country area this service is offered by Country Health SA at your general hospital. Contact your local police for further details.

Undecided

People may find it difficult to make the decision about legal action and should be given the option of having the forensic specimens collected and stored until the decision is made within a 6 month period. This examination also includes medical care. The procedure at Yarrow Place stores the forensic evidence collected in locked fridge for three months. After this, it is stored at the Forensic Science Centre for a further three months, after this time the evidence will be destroyed. This gives the victim up to 6 months to make a decision about reporting to the police.

South Australian Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions

If you would like to read some information about your legal options after a sexual assault, you can download the following booklet from the SA Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions web site:

 

Other rape and sexual assault topics

 

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