What is considered evidence

  1. Scenario:adult male presents to ER with c/o abdominal pain. Reports to have been sexually assaulted 2 days prior. Has right black eye & foreign body in rectum. Refuses to be examined by SANE nurse and won't answer officer questions. OR nurse came to bring pt to OR for removal of foreign body and pt states to her that he doesn't want anything given to officer. Surgeon removed fb and tells RN that she can dispose of it. A few hours later officer arrives back to hospital and requests evidence. Nurse is being told by administration that she by law needed to hand over fb. What is considered evidence if pt does not want to press charges?
    •  
  2. Visit RNproudtobe profile page

    About RNproudtobe, ASN

    Joined: Feb '17; Posts: 2; Likes: 1

    11 Comments

  3. by   klone
    We are not attorneys.
  4. by   JKL33
    It is not up to the patient to decide whether something will or might be prosecuted or whether something is evidence. Whether they wish to press charges or not is not what determines all of that.

    Very wise to always be in communication with your administrator who will consult the legal department in situations where we aren't expected to have the answers.
  5. by   psu_213
    I would have no idea what the rights are of the patient and the nurse in this scenario--you must get in contact with the hospital attorney. My guess is that if you ask 10 different non-attorneys, you will get 5-10 different answers.

    BTW, is this a homework question?
  6. by   Horseshoe
    Quote from RNproudtobe
    Scenario:adult male presents to ER with c/o abdominal pain. Reports to have been sexually assaulted 2 days prior. Has right black eye & foreign body in rectum. Refuses to be examined by SANE nurse and won't answer officer questions. OR nurse came to bring pt to OR for removal of foreign body and pt states to her that he doesn't want anything given to officer. Surgeon removed fb and tells RN that she can dispose of it. A few hours later officer arrives back to hospital and requests evidence. Nurse is being told by administration that she by law needed to hand over fb. What is considered evidence if pt does not want to press charges?
    LE does not need a victim's permission to press charges.
  7. by   DextersDisciple
    This sounds like something the SANE should have handled. It's not in the scope of an ED RN To know evidence collection and chain of custody. But if pt refused SANE probably had left by then. I'm not a lawyer though..
  8. by   meanmaryjean
    Homework? what are your thoughts?
  9. by   twinmommy+2
    If it is an adult male, and they have capacity to make their own decisions, then they can say that they don't want to proceed with a sexual assault investigation (now that's West Virginia but I think its probably the same in most states). Sexual assaults can happen against men. What needs to happen is he needs to visit with social work or something along those lines to ensure his safety.
  10. by   JKL33
    Quote from twinmommy+2
    If it is an adult male, and they have capacity to make their own decisions, then they can say that they don't want to proceed with a sexual assault investigation (now that's West Virginia but I think its probably the same in most states). Sexual assaults can happen against men. What needs to happen is he needs to visit with social work or something along those lines to ensure his safety.
    Are you sure about that? Declining a SANE (exam) is not the same thing as deciding not to participate in an investigation. People can be legally compelled to "participate in investigations" although a prosecutor may decide not to pursue prosecution under various circumstances.
  11. by   DextersDisciple
    Quote from JKL33
    Are you sure about that? Declining a SANE (exam) is not the same thing as deciding not to participate in an investigation. People can be legally compelled to "participate in investigations" although a prosecutor may decide not to pursue prosecution under various circumstances.
    I'm not sure what "participating in the investigation" means but the pt can refuse the exam OR can go through with the exam BUT still does not have to press charges. May be different state to state but the evidence collected is preserved for 5 years if they decide not to press charges. The pt is then notified after 5 years if they would like the evidence destroyed or not.
    A pt has a 5 day window to even be eligible for a SANE exam.
  12. by   Horseshoe
    Quote from DextersDisciple
    I'm not sure what "participating in the investigation" means but the pt can refuse the exam OR can go through with the exam BUT still does not have to press charges. May be different state to state but the evidence collected is preserved for 5 years if they decide not to press charges. The pt is then notified after 5 years if they would like the evidence destroyed or not.
    A pt has a 5 day window to even be eligible for a SANE exam.
    Law enforcement can (and does) prosecute people even when a victim doesn't want to press charges. Note that in court, the charges are always "The People (not victim Jane Doe) vs. Defendant." Granted, if a victim won't cooperate, it makes it all that much harder. But there have certainly been cases (particularly with domestic violence) that the battered one is too afraid to press charges, but the abuser is nevertheless prosecuted. When there are multiple credible witnesses, the cooperation of the victim is not as critical.

    This article was written by an Idaho attorney, but this information is basically true in most if not all states:

    Clients often call me and tell me the complaining witness (also known as the "alleged victim") is not "pressing charges." They say that the complaining witness has even gone so far as to inform the prosecuting attorney that they want to "drop the charges." "So..." the client asks me, "If no one is pressing charges, why am I still being charged?"The Myth of Victims Dropping Charges.

    The myth that an alleged victim can "drop the charges" probably stems from too many crime dramas where a plot twist occurs when the victim "drops the charges". In Idaho, it is not the "victim" that files the charges. Consequently, it is not the "victim" that "drops the charges."
    Prosecutors File Charges.

    A complaining witness can file a "complaint" with the proper authorities, such as a police officer. The law enforcement agency then takes the complaint and files it with the prosecuting attorney's office. The prosecuting attorney's office then reviews the complaint and makes a determination whether to file charges and what type of charges to file. It is the prosecuting attorney who then files the charges with the court. The court then makes an initial finding of probable cause and then does one of two things. He either issues an arrest warrant for the defendant or a "summons" that orders the defendant to appear in court.
    Prosecutors Dismiss Charges.

    Since it is the prosecutor who files the charges, the only person who can dismiss the charges is the prosecutor. As you can imagine, if the prosecuting attorney already made a determination to file the charges, they are not frequently persuaded to then drop the charges. A victim asking does not often change their mind since it is very common for victims to request this.
    The Victim Is Not Pressing Charges. Why Am I Still Being Charged? - ATKINSON LAW OFFICE

    With a rape case, victim cooperation would seem even more important, but a case still may proceed if evidence has been collected before the victim decides they don't want to cooperate.
    Last edit by Horseshoe on Jun 22
  13. by   traumaRUs
    Per our terms of service, we cannot answer as to the legality of this. Please contact risk management

close