If you are a survivor with an open case, you can contact the police department in the city where the assault occurred to ask about the status of your kit. Start by asking for the detective or prosecutor assigned to your case. Try to get a police report number, the criminal court case number (if one has been assigned), or any “tracking” number associated with the kit to use as a reference when calling for future updates. Some survivors have been able to access information about their kits directly through the police department, but generally only after making multiple inquiries, which can be frustrating and time-consuming.
Other survivors have found it helpful to work with victim advocates from their local sexual assault crisis center. Advocates can make phone calls and arrange meetings for you, and they often have working relationships with local police and prosecutors.
If law enforcement is actively investigating a case or preparing for trial, they may not be able to answer all of your questions immediately. At times, law enforcement and prosecutors have to withhold certain information from victims or potential trial witnesses in order not to taint the case or adversely impact future trial procedures. For instance, if law enforcement gives a victim too much information before a line-up or other identification procedure, a defense attorney can argue that the line-up was flawed and the identification is not admissible at trial. To preserve the integrity of the investigation, law enforcement may not be able to give you all the information they have. Working with a victim advocate can be helpful for understanding and navigating this process.
There is growing national recognition of the importance of survivor access to kit status information. Some states and localities are implementing tracking systems that will enable survivors to check the status of their kit online. Other states, like California, Kentucky, Texas, and Utah, have enacted laws granting survivors the right to information about their rape kits. In Texas, for example, a survivor has the right, upon request, to information regarding whether their kit was submitted to a crime lab, whether a DNA profile was developed, whether this profile was entered into the national DNA database for comparison, and any results of that comparison (unless the disclosure will interfere with the investigation of the crime).
As a survivor, you may have notification rights in your state.