Law Enforcement Advocacy

Catalyst provides comprehensive follow-up services after a domestic violence or sexual assault incident.

Catalyst strives to establish timely communication with law enforcement to ensure survivors connect with an advocate promptly following incidents of domestic violence or sexual assault. Survivors also have the option to reach out to us directly after recent interactions with law enforcement, though engaging with law enforcement is not necessary to access Catalyst services.

We provide comprehensive follow-up services, including:

  • Assisting in making or accessing a police report
  • Accompanying survivors during interviews with law enforcement authorities
  • Accompanying survivors during forensic medical exams
  • Following up with the responding officer
  • Facilitating the filing of restraining orders
  • Connecting survivors with additional supportive services

Right to Confidentiality

A significant concern expressed by many sexual assault survivors is the potential loss of confidentiality associated with reporting to law enforcement. While law enforcement officers may encourage you to report so they can hold perpetrators accountable and prevent future assaults, Catalyst recognizes that survivors may not feel ready or interested in working with law enforcement. We respect your decisions, and all of our communication with you is confidential. When you speak with a Catalyst Advocate, you can trust that you can talk freely without fear that we will call law enforcement without your permission.

If you decide you would like to file a police report, our Advocates can be by your side every step of the way. You are able to request to the responding officer that your name and address remain confidential in the report. This does not happen automatically, so it is important that you make the request for confidentiality. If you do not make this request, your name and address will become a part of the public record associated with the case. The responding officer taking the report is required to let the survivor know they have the right to confidentiality. When a survivor makes this request, the only individuals who will be able to access the survivor’s name and contact information are the prosecutor, the parole officer and public agencies authorized or required by law to receive the information (Penal Code sec. 293).

Notification of Rape Crisis Center By Law Enforcement Agency

Under California Penal Code Section 264.2, law enforcement agencies are required to promptly notify the local rape crisis center (Catalyst) when a survivor of sexual assault is on the way to the hospital for a forensic medical exam. Our Response Advocates are available 24/7 to accompany survivors during these exams and provide support.

Right to be Updated on Progress of Case

Catalyst Advocates can assist survivors in obtaining updates on their case through our established relationships with law enforcement, ensuring survivors are informed and empowered throughout the criminal-legal process, should they choose to go that route.

Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights

On October 12, 2017 the Governor of California signed into law what is known as the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights (SABOR). The SABOR includes these directives:

  • Law enforcement must provide sexual assault survivors with a card explaining their rights upon their first interaction.
  • Law enforcement is prohibited from discouraging a survivor from receiving a forensic medical exam or physical exam.
  • Women must be provided birth control after their assault at no cost to them.
  • Law enforcement agencies must preserve all sexual assault evidence kits for unsolved cases for a minimum of 20 years or until a victim who is a minor turns 40 years old.
  • Law enforcement, upon receipt of a written request from the survivor, must provide a victim with a copy of the initial crime report.
  • A prosecutor, upon receipt of a written request from the survivor, must provide the defendant’s information on the sex offender registry.

Statute of Limitations

As of January 1, 2017, California eliminated the criminal statute of limitations on felony sexual assault, enabling survivors to seek justice regardless of when the assault occurred.

Access to a Forensic Medical Exam Without Choosing to Engage with Law Enforcement

Survivors have the right to access forensic medical exams without requiring involvement with law enforcement, as established by the federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and implemented in California law. The costs of these exams are covered by the local law enforcement agency, ensuring survivors can access crucial medical care without financial burden or legal obligation.

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