AG praises sexual assault, DNA bills that become law |

AG praises sexual assault, DNA bills that become law

Nevada Appeal staff report

Nevada Attorney General Aaron D. Ford on Thursday praised the signing of Assembly Bill (AB) 16 and Senate Bill (SB) 9, the first two bills relating to criminal justice signed during this legislative session.

Taken together, these pieces of legislation will assist local law enforcement in the investigation and prosecution of sexual assault and DNA-evidence based crimes. The bills passed through the Legislature with bipartisan support.

“I was proud to sign these two bills today that will strengthen our justice system and provide our hard-working men and women of law enforcement with better tools to pursue justice for victims,” added Governor Steve Sisolak. “I’m grateful to Attorney General Ford, our law enforcement community, and advocates to end sexual assault for their hard work in getting these bills to my desk.”

AB 16, a bill sponsored by the Office of the Nevada Attorney General, increases the time for law enforcement officers to execute and return search warrants to obtain DNA samples. Under current law, a search warrant must be executed and returned to court within 10 days of issuance. However, if a subject is actively evading the police, law enforcement must return to the courts every 10 days to renew the warrant. If the warrant lapses and the subject is subsequently located, law enforcement can only detain that person for one hour while they attempt to get the warrant renewed. If the clock runs out before they’re able to do so, the person must be released. The passage of AB 16 expands the effective period of a DNA warrant from that narrow 10-day window to six months.

SB 9, another bill sponsored by the Office of the Nevada Attorney General removes the statute of limitation when a sexual assault is committed during the course of a murder. Under current law, if a victim of sexual assault or a person authorized to act on behalf of the victim files a police report within five years of the assault, the statute of limitations on the crime is lifted, and the crime can be prosecuted at any time in the future. If however the victim doesn’t file a report within five years, the statute of limitations for sexual assault is 20 years. These statutes created a problematic loophole where victims of sexual assault who have been murdered are unable to file a report, making the prosecution of these crimes limited to only 20 years. This legislation closes that loophole.