What is a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner?
What is a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner?
A sexual assault nurse examiner (SANE) is a registered nurse that specializes in forensic nursing. These registered nurses will perform forensic evaluations that have medical examination features.
A sexual assault forensic exam is geared for the preparation, collection, evaluation and disposition of evidence. All the discovered evidence and medical treatment that is provided is relative to alleged sexual assault victims having been sexually assaulted.
Forensic Evidence Collection
Part of the SANE exam involves the use of a rape kit to collect evidence from the accuser’s body. (Find out here what is a rape kit?)
Sexual assault nurse examiners will make SANE nursing observations of the accuser’s body, using the rape kit, and memorialize those findings in a report. The sexual assault examiner will also swab the different parts of the body that the accuser claims the accused touched or sexually penetrated. (Find out here what is sexual penetration?)
For example, the penis, vagina, anus, chest, etc. may all be swabbed for potential DNA, semen, secretions of any sort, saliva, sexually transmitted diseases, etc. The swabs will then be sent to a laboratory in order to determine if any scientific evidence emerges from the testing of the swabs. The laboratory will then do their own report based on their findings. That report will be forwarded to the state and to the accused sex offender’s criminal defense attorney.
A SANE forensic examination must take place within 120 hours (5 days) after the alleged sexual assault. The time limit of “120 hours” is the typical time frame used for sexual assault forensic exams throughout Michigan. 120 hours after the alleged sexual violence is crucial for SANE nurses to try and collect evidence that can be useful.
Accusers are Told to Go to SANE
Sexual assault victims typically do not just walk into a doctor’s office or hospital and request to see a SANE nurse. Typically, a SANE examination is done after the accuser has called the National Sexual Assault Hotline, made a complaint to the police department, and/or made a complaint at a Child Advocacy Center (CAC).
Once that complaint is made, the state/police department/sexual assault response team will request that the accuser go be examined by a SANE nurse. SANE nurses, unlike family doctors, are specially trained on how to do a thorough interview and physical examination of the accuser.
The SANE nurse is required to do a SANE report based on the examination. The SANE report is typically 10 pages.
The 10-page SANE report is filled out by the SANE nurse as the examination is done. Once the SANE examination is completed, the SANE report will be turned over to the state and to the accused sex offender’s criminal defense attorney.
SANE Nurses Testify
The state can and will call the SANE nurse to testify at trial. Michigan Rules of Evidence, Rule 803(4), allows for such testimony. Testimony for purposes of a medical diagnosis is an exception to the hearsay rule and, therefore, is allowed in at trial.
At trial, the state will also move to admit the SANE report, which is admissible at trial. If the SANE report is consistent with the accuser’s accusations, this will be used against the accused.
There are several ways that the SANE report can be used in favor of the accused. ONLY a skilled lawyer, with years of experience with sexual assault forensic nurses and SANE reports will be able to navigate these waters successfully.
Hire Blank Law, PC
When a SANE report exists, Blank Law, PC should be in your corner.
Nicole Blank Becker has read and dissected thousands of SANE reports, and she is well versed in the strengths and weaknesses of SANE reports.
As the prior Chief of the Sex Unit in Macomb County, Nicole has many years of experience working with sexual assault forensic nurses, observing SANE lectures, and critiqueing SANE reports.
There is an enormous amount of useful information in SANE reports. That information can be discovered and successfully used against the accuser so long as you have an attorney that knows what to look for.
If a lawyer doesn’t know what to look for in the SANE report, the SANE report can and will be used against you. There truly is a special skill set that goes along with defending criminal sexual conduct/sexual violence cases, and you can’t afford to not have the best on your side.
Call (248) 515-6583 or contact us online to get Blank Law, PC in your corner today!