Two New Laws Have Been Passed in Louisiana Affecting Sexual Abuse Cases
During the 2019 Regular Session of the Louisiana Legislature, two new laws were enacted which will have an effect on sexual abuse cases in Louisiana.
The first law, which became effective August 1, 2019, adds an exception to the hearsay rule for statements made to health-care providers by victims of a sex offense during a forensic medical examination, where the statement is documented in writing by the healthcare provider at the time of the examination. This new rule is codified as an addition to the Louisiana Code of Evidence Article 801((D)(1)(e)), which will provide that a statement is not hearsay if it is “[a] statement made by the victim of a sexually-oriented criminal offense to a healthcare provider during the course of a forensic medical examination as defined in R.S. 15:622 and the healthcare provider has documented that statement in writing during the course of the forensic medical examination.”
The second law, which became effective June 11, 2019, allows victims of domestic abuse, dating violence, human trafficking, and sexual assault to access the criminal history records of witnesses or parties in a civil action which are maintained by the Louisiana Bureau of Criminal Identification and Information. The records obtained may be used as evidence of “similar crimes, wrongs, or acts” under Louisiana Code of Evidence Article 412.5. The records’ confidentiality must be maintained and their contents may be disclosed only to the court and opposing counsel, or in court proceedings related to the civil case.
These records can be accessed by an attorney of record in the civil case upon issuance of a request by the attorney, or his licensed investigator, to the sheriff. The request must include the following information:
1. The identifying information related to the individual including the full legal name, date of birth, or any other identifying information that the attorney may possess.
2. The name and bar number of the attorney making the request.
3. The name of the case, the suit number, and the judicial district of the court for which the attorney is making the request. The sheriff will them submit the request to the appropriate bureau and provide to results to the requesting attorney.