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The Impact of Jurisdiction on SANE Practice

The term jurisdiction refers to the power, right, or authority to interpret and apply the law; the authority of a sovereign power to govern or legislate; the power or right to exercise authority; or the limits or territory within which authority may be exercised. SANEs must understand that jurisdiction determines who will investigate and prosecute the crime. Jurisdictional issues can occur in every community. A sexual assault in a tribal community may have state, federal, or tribal jurisdiction. An assault involving military personnel or dependents may come under military jurisdiction. Every multidisciplinary team should have a plan in place that allows the SANE to proceed with providing health care and the collection of medical forensic evidence until jurisdiction for the case can be determined. If you live in a community where boundaries for jurisdictions are not always clear, identify one agency that can be contacted when there is a problem concerning determining jurisdiction. It is their responsibility to determine who will ultimately be responsible for the case. For example, a county sheriff’s department may be willing to act in that role where there are several municipal law enforcement agencies. Programs should be aware of the following laws and how they may impact jurisdiction.