A forensic exam is a medical examination that focuses on collecting evidence from the assault. You will work with a Forensic Nurse as she collects evidence. Forensic Nurses are trained to handle sexual assault cases, and are trauma sensitive. Please note that Forensic Nurses are mandated reporters.

Forensic Examination is independent of your decision to open an investigation. Even if you do not want an investigation, you can still have evidence collected. It is best to collect most evidence within a 5-day window of an assault, so if you are unsure whether you want to open an investigation, you could choose to have an Abbreviated Forensic Exam right away to keep your options open.

SAFE Place at Anaheim Regional Medical Center is the only hospital in Orange County where forensic exams are available.

You have the right to have a Victim Advocate present

You have the right to have a Victim Advocate present at any time throughout the process – during the exam and interviews with nurses or law enforcement personnel. The Advocate is available to:

Types of Forensic Exams

Full Forensic Exam (police involvement)

The full forensic exam is used to collect evidence from the sexual assault. The priority is to receive evidence to help with an investigation. Law enforcement is involved, as they pay for the exam. Although, law enforcement is necessary for this exam, you have the CHOICE to continue with the investigation, even after the exam is received.

Any questions or concerns can be answered by a hotline responder from Community Service Programs at 949-831-9110 or from the UCI CARE Victim Advocate.

Forensic Exam Process

If you are uncomfortable at any time, you can stop and take a break or stop the process.

  • Call to report the sexual assault to the police department (make sure it is the police department in the city where the crime occurred). A Victim Advocate and Forensic Nurse will be dispatched to meet you at SAFE Place.
  • The police officer can take you to SAFE Place and bring you back after the exam. You are welcome to call a support person to be there with you and transport you back home after the exam. The officer will stay until the exam is complete.
  • You may receive an examination from emergency services on the scene if Forensic Nurses or the police are concerned for your immediate health. If you are treated for any major injuries, these services may not be covered under the Forensic Exam costs paid by the state.
  • The Forensic Nurse and Victim Advocate will meet you at SAFE Place.
  • The Forensic Nurse will explain the procedure, and the Victim Advocate will be there to support you throughout the process or answer any questions you may have.
  • The Victim Advocate will provide information and resources that may be beneficial for future counseling or other support services.
  • The Forensic Nurse and police will interview you. Be prepared to answer questions about what happened and possibly provide details.
  • The Forensic Nurse will perform the forensic exam, collecting evidence of the sexual assault. You can choose to have the Victim Advocate or other support person with you in the room. The police officer will not attend the medical exam and will wait outside.
  • Medical personnel may offer pregnancy testing or preventive medications for possible pregnancy or STI’s. They may also prescribe continual medication to take if necessary.
  • Once the evidence is collected the police officer can take you home or, if a support person drove you there, you can choose to go back with them.
  • If you have any others concerns, the Victim Advocate can work with you to find options or other referrals.
  • Be prepared for the exam to last two to three hours, but it can go longer, depending on several factors. The exam can be performed at any time during the day or night. You can even choose to have the exam right after the assault.

*Note* If you choose to go to the Emergency Room yourself, please understand that doctors are mandated reporters. They can contact law enforcement for the forensic exam. Also, if you do not let the Emergency Room know that you want a forensic exam first, you may be charged for the emergency room visit. The full forensic exam is of no cost to you.

Abbreviated/VAWA Forensic Exam (police involvement optional)

The abbreviated exam still allows you have evidence collected without law enforcement involvement. The interview process is abbreviated – you will answer a short questionnaire rather than direct questions from law enforcement or nurses. Collected evidence from an abbreviated exam will be kept for two years. This is not a walk-in appointment like a full forensic exam. It is a scheduled appointment during normal business hours.

This can be a good option for you if you still want evidence collected, but do not want to open an investigation or law enforcement involvement.

How to schedule an Abbreviated Exam:

You can bypass the first three steps and call your UCI CARE Victim Advocate during business hours 8am-5pm

  1. Call Wayfinders (formerly Community Service Programs (CSP)) hotline at 949-831-9110.
  2. Let the Responder know that you are interested in the Abbreviated Exam.
  3. The Responder will ask for your contact information to give to the Forensic Nurse.
  4. A Forensic Nurse will call you to set up an appointment for that week.
  5. If you are uncomfortable with providing your contact information, then you can ask the responder for other options to reach the Forensic Nurses to coordinate the appointment yourself.
  6. You can always ask more questions, and the responder can offer other options if you are unclear.