Laws in North Carolina

Attorney General Stein and the Department of Justice have undertaken several initiatives in the past years to end the sexual assault kit backlog, give sexual assault victims and survivors more legal tools and protections to process their crime, and help the criminal justice system hold offenders accountable and keep the public safe.

Survivor Act

The 2019 mandated kit inventory identified approximately 16,000 untested sexual assault kits in local law enforcement offices around the state. Attorney General Stein drafted and championed the Survivor Act, which became law in 2019. The Survivor Act is aimed at testing all untested kits in North Carolina and preventing backlogs from occurring in the future.

Survivor Act

June 28, 2017

Backlog Audit Begins

The legislature in coordination with NC DOJ enacted Session Law 2017-57 to require every law enforcement agency to report to the State Crime Lab how many untested kits were in its possession.

June 25, 2018

Obtained Legislative Approval

AG Stein obtained legislative approval to begin kit tracking and the legislature authorized creation of a working group. The legislature failed to fund any outsourcing of old kits.

October 1, 2018

Launched Kit Tracking

AG Stein launched a new statewide sexual assault kit tracking system that barcodes all new sexual assault evidence collection kits. Survivors and actors in the criminal justice system can now track these kits, in real time, increasing transparency and accountability.

October 4, 2018

Awarded SAKI Grant Funding

AG Stein announced $2 million in grant funding from the US DOJ’s Bureau of Justice Assistance Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) to test untested kits.

January 29, 2019

Survivor Act Announced

AG Stein, joined by bill sponsors, Sens. Warren Daniel, Danny Britt, and Floyd McKissick and Reps. Jamie Boles, Mary Belk, Billy Richardson, and Carson Smith, unveiled the Standing Up for Rape Victims Act, or SURVIVOR Act, to test older kits and prevent future backlogs.

February 2, 2019

Inventory of Untested Kits Completed

AG Stein announced the results of the State Crime Lab’s audit, which found a backlog of ~15,000 untested sexual assault kits located across the state. AG Stein asked the legislature to create a working group, fund kit testing, and authorize a tracking system.

September 16, 2019

SURVIVOR Act Becomes Law

After passing the House and Senate unanimously on September 16, Gov. Roy Cooper signed the SURVIVOR Act into law. The law appropriates $6 million to outsource kit testing and institutes reforms of the rape kit testing process.

January 2019-Present

Testing Kits

Law Enforcement agencies across the state engage in renewed efforts to test untested kits. More than 16,000 old kits have already been tested and law enforcement announces solving of cold cases and arrests of rapists.

Safe Child Act

The SAFE Child Act, spearheaded by Attorney General Stein, also became law in 2019. The legislation protects children from abuse in person and online and modernizes sexual assault laws in North Carolina. That means that if you’re 18 years or older, and you know a child is being abused, you must report it to your local law enforcement agency.

The law also extends the statute of limitations to bring certain criminal actions against people who have allegedly committed child abuse. A prosecutor will now have up to 10 years, instead of the original two years, after the date of an alleged incident to bring a misdemeanor criminal child abuse charge.

The legislation also helps victims hold their abusers accountable for the harm they suffered by increasing the amount of time that a person who was sexually abused as a minor can file a civil lawsuit against their abuser – from the age of 21 to 28. Anyone who was originally barred from taking civil action because of the old statute of limitations, no matter their age, will have two years to file an action under the SAFE Child Act. That two-year period went into effect on Jan. 1, 2020, and will end on Dec. 31, 2021.

Other North Carolina Laws

Sexual assault and rape are serious crimes in North Carolina. Victims of rape and sexual assault have the right to take legal action to end the abuse. Attorney General Stein works to hold perpetrators of sexual violence responsible for the crimes they commit, and provide some measure of justice for survivors.

You can find the general statute for rape and other sex offenses here.