Sexual Assault Forensic Medical Exam

Availability of Free Sexual Assault Forensic Medical Exams and Resources for Survivors of Sexual Assault

If you or someone you know has been the victim of a sexual assault, California offers free sexual assault forensic medical exams and support for survivors. Below is information about how to access these exams and commonly asked questions related to the exams.

Obtaining a Free Sexual Assault Forensic Medical Exam

If you have been the victim of a sexual assault, you are entitled to a sexual assault forensic exam, from a trained medical professional free of charge. Along with the examination, the Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) can offer additional support including medical and mental healthcare.

The sexual assault forensic exam is designed to gather evidence of the sexual assault and provide healthcare services. Both for medical and evidentiary purposes, the exam should occur as soon as possible and should be completed within 5 days of the attack. Medical and mental health treatment are available as part of the exam.

While the exam preserves evidence of the assault, it is important to know that getting the exam does not obligate you to participate in the criminal justice system if you choose not to. Every victim has the right to have a support person with them at all phases of the medical and legal process, including the exam. This includes a friend, family member, or advocate with a local rape crisis center. You also have the right to transportation to and from the medical examination.

Information about support services is available here:

Frequently Asked Questions

  • A sexual assault forensic medical exam is intended to collect forensic evidence for use in the criminal prosecution of the person who perpetrated the sexual assault.
  • The medical exam is performed by healthcare professionals with specialized training in working with survivors and collecting samples.
  • The collected samples go to a crime lab within 20 days of collection and must be processed by the lab within 120 days.
  • In addition to swabbing parts the body to obtain samples, examiners will take photographs and look for injuries.
  • You should be offered emergency contraception or medication to prevent STIs.
  • If possible, try not to shower, bathe, eat/drink, or brush your teeth until you have had the opportunity to discuss possible options immediately after the assault. These activities have the potential to eliminate any DNA evidence that could potentially be found through the medical exam process.

If you are in California, you can contact any Law Enforcement Agency or call 911 in an emergency. Alternatively, you can locate your county’s emergency response number on your county’s website. Law enforcement can also assist you in accessing the forensic exam and medical care.

You can also report through your local Rape Crisis Center. Rape Crisis Centers provide mental health help, legal aid, safe housing and other services for survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence. Find your local Rape Crisis Center by calling the National Sexual Assault Hotline at (800) 656-4673 or visiting

Starting in July 2022, survivors of sexual assault will be able to privately, securely, and confidentially access and track their own Sexual Assault Evidence Kit on a DOJ portal.1

In the meantime, to learn the location and status of your medical exam (aka your kit), you may contact the California Department of Justice’s Victims’ Services Unit (VSU) by phone at (877) 433-9069 or by email at VSU requires a police report number or kit number to identify the evidence.

1Senate Bill 215

Forensic exams for sexual assault victims are free in the state of California. If for some reason you are billed, you should contact your local Rape Crisis Center and file a complaint with the California Department of Justice’s Public Inquiry Unit. For more information about filing a complaint, call (800) 952-5225 or visit

For more information about victim services and your rights as a sexual assault survivor visit

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