PERKs

Victim PERKPhysical Evidence Recovery Kits (PERKs)

Physical Evidence Recovery Kits (also known as Sexual Assault Kits in other jurisdictions) are used to collect biological evidence from victims of sexual assaults. Effective July 1, 2016, Virginia Code §  19.2-11.5 through 19.2-11.11 creates a comprehensive procedure for the consistent collection, storage, and analysis of PERKs in the Commonwealth.

Physical Evidence Recovery Kit (PERK) Questions:

  • When should a PERK be submitted to the laboratory for analysis?

  • Pursuant to Virginia Code § 19.2-11.8, a law-enforcement agency that receives a physical evidence recovery kit (PERK) collected from a victim who has reported the offense shall submit the physical evidence recovery kit to DFS for analysis within 60 days of receipt, except under the following circumstances: (i) it is an anonymous PERK; (ii) the PERK was collected by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner as part of a routine death investigation, and the medical examiner and the law-enforcement agency agree that analysis is not warranted; (iii) the PERK is connected to an offense that occurred outside of the Commonwealth; or (iv) the PERK was determined by the law-enforcement agency not to be connected to a criminal offense.  This is effective July 1, 2016.
  • What is an anonymous PERK?

  • Anonymous PERKs are kits collected from victims of sexual assault who elect not to make a report of the offense to law enforcement at the time of the examination.
  • Where are anonymous PERKs stored and for how long?

  • All anonymous PERKs must be forwarded by the health care provider to the Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services (DCLS) for storage.  DCLS is required to store these kits for a minimum of two years, but may retain longer in its discretion or at the request of the victim or the investigating law enforcement agency.  If the victim makes a report to law enforcement, DCLS is required to release the PERK to the law enforcement agency. Information about anonymous PERKs can be found on the DCLS website.
  • Can victims get information about the PERK analysis in their case?

  • Yes. A victim, a parent or guardian of a victim, or a close relative of a deceased victim has the right to request and receive from the investigating law enforcement agency information regarding:
    • The submission of the PERK for analysis:
    • The status of the analysis; and
    • The results of the analysis.
    However, the law enforcement agency can withhold the information if it would interfere with an investigation or prosecution, provided the victim, parent, guardian or relative is provided an estimated date on which the information may be disclosed.  The victim, parent, guardian or relative must provide a current address or telephone number to the Commonwealth’s Attorney and the law enforcement agency.
  • Will DFS store the PERKs after analysis?

  • No. After analysis, DFS will return the PERK to the law enforcement agency.  It shall be stored for 10 years or until two years after the victim reaches the age of majority, whichever is longer.  After the mandatory retention period, the law enforcement agency may retain the PERK for a longer period of time.
  • What happens to the PERK if the victim elects to report the sexual assault to law enforcement?

  • If the victim elects to report the sexual assault to law enforcement at the time the PERK is collected, the health care provider is required to notify the investigating law enforcement agency forthwith that the kit has been collected, and the law enforcement agency is required to forthwith take possession of the kit upon receiving such notice. With four limited exceptions, law enforcement is required submit to DFS within 60 days all PERKs where the victim has made a report of the offense.
  • What are the exceptions to the mandatory submission of PERKs to DFS?

  • Pursuant to Virginia Code § 19.2-11.8, all PERKs collected from a victim who has reported the offense must submit the PERK to DFS for analysis within 60 days of receipt, except under the following circumstances:
    • (i) it is an anonymous PERK;
    • (ii) the PERK was collected by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner as part of a routine death investigation, and the medical examiner and the law-enforcement agency agree that analysis is not warranted;
    • (iii) the PERK is connected to an offense that occurred outside of the Commonwealth; or
    • (iv) the PERK was determined by the law-enforcement agency not to be connected to a criminal offense.