Preservation of Evidence
Evidence of sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, or stalking should be preserved as soon as possible, even if you are unsure about reporting to the University of Wisconsin-Platteville or filing criminal charges. It’s essential for law enforcement and campus disciplinary investigations.
Write down, or have a friend write down, everything you can remember about the incident, including a physical description of the assailant.
If you report the assault and pursue legal options, a prompt forensic examination can be crucial.
Steps to preserve forensic evidence
- Avoid drinking, bathing, showering, brushing your teeth, using mouthwash, or combing hair.
- Do not change clothes. If you have already changed your clothes, place your clothing and other items (sheets, blankets) in a brown paper bag (a plastic bag may destroy evidence).
- Go to a hospital emergency department, which has the capability to provide a Sexual Assault Forensic Exam and medical care for victims of sexual assault and intimate partner violence. You have the right to refuse the entire exam or any part of it at any time.
- You may also decide to complete a forensic exam anonymously.
- If you suspect that you are the victim of a drug-facilitated sexual assault, ask the hospital or clinic where you receive medical care to take a urine sample. Drugs, such as Rohypnol and GHB, are more likely to be detected in urine than in blood.
- Consider bringing someone to the hospital with you for support.
Physical evidence should be preserved even if you choose not to go to the hospital. Save all clothing you were wearing at the time of the assault. Put each item in a separate paper bag (do not use plastic bags). Save all bedding (blankets, sheets) and put each in a separate paper bag. Take photographs of any visible physical injuries (bruising, scratches) for use as evidence.
Evidence such as texts, emails, Facebook posts, chats, pictures, videos or other forms of electronic communication can be helpful in a college or criminal investigation. Download to save to a .pdf, take screenshots, or use other methods to preserve electronic evidence.