Salt Lake City considers crime lab, cops say backlog due to weak cases

Many rape kits have been collected, but not processed, although law enforcement authorities say there is a good reason for this.

Does Salt Lake City have an issue with untested rape kits? The City Council seems to think so, and is considering funding its own crime lab to process rape kits. But, like most issues, this one is more complicated than it seems at first glance, and the implications of any decisions that are made could affect you if you are being accused of committing a sex crime.

Many rape kits unprocessed because sexual assault allegations prove unfounded

Normally, the State Crime Lab processes rape kits, which obtain DNA evidence in alleged sexual assault cases. Earlier this year, a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner publicized the results of a survey that found 94 percent of reported sexual assaults involving adults in Salt Lake County are not prosecuted.

In response to this, the State Crime Lab said that its estimated rape kit backlog stood at between 1,000 and 2,000 kits, and that an additional $750,000 would be required to process all untested kits. A further $600,000 would be required on an ongoing basis for the State Crime Lab to process all newly received rape kits.

But, the Salt Lake City Police Department has its own take on why so many rape kits are not being processed. Rather than representing a lack of care or a deluge of sex assault cases, the Salt Lake City Police Chief and other law enforcement officials say that when the supposed victim in a case proves unwilling to press charges, or evidence emerges showing that sex was consensual – which often happens – rapes kits are not processed because it would be pointless to do so.

Processing a single rape kit costs approximately $1,000. Put in this context, the backlog seems like less of a crisis than a rational decision not to waste funds on frivolous cases.

Get legal help if you are facing accusations

It remains to be seen whether Salt Lake City will get its own crime lab to process rape kits. If it does, this would be sure to cut down on the backlog.

But, if law enforcement authorities are correct in their assessments, the scary-looking statistics about unprocessed rape kits are not a commentary on insufficient resources being committed to combat a real problem; they are an indication that many purported sexual assaults turn out to be consensual encounters or otherwise cannot be prosecuted.

Emotions run high in sex crime cases, and this reality can impact your future if you have been accused of committing a sexual assault. But, as the debate surrounding a potential new Salt Lake City crime law shows, by their own admission, police recognize that a high number of alleged sexual assaults do not amount to solid cases primed for prosecution. Do not let wild allegations ruin your future: get help from Greg Smith and Associates if you have been accused of committing a crime.

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