“If I’m arrested or charged, will I have to give a sample of my DNA?” is a question we get a lot, especially in sex offense and violent crime cases. Indeed, this is a reasonable question to ask. After all, most of us have watched crime shows where cold cases were solved with DNA evidence, sometimes decades after the crime was committed.
But at the same time, we’ve also heard horror stories about defendants who were wrongfully convicted of crimes after being coerced into a confession by dirty cops, or whose fates were sealed by faulty eyewitness testimonies. So, not everyone has “faith” in our criminal justice system or the way DNA evidence is collected and stored.
DNA samples during criminal investigations ...most people’s stomachs’ turn at the thought, so don’t feel bad if the idea makes you uneasy as well.
While the science behind DNA technology has made great strides in the last 10 years in solving crimes, it’s also helped take innocent people out of the prison system and off death row. According to the Innocence Project, “130 DNA exonerees were wrongfully convicted for murders; 40 (31% of these cases involved eyewitness misidentifications and 81 (62% involved false confessions.”
So, DNA technology definitely serves a purpose. In the eyes of law enforcement, it has two primary uses: 1) to nail suspects down with incredible accuracy, and 2) eliminate suspects so detectives can shift their focus away from innocents.
What is the Law in California?
“Who has to give samples of their DNA in California and when?” Here is what California residents, arrestees, and suspects NEED to know.
The following individuals must provide samples of their DNA in California criminal cases:
- Any adult or juvenile who is convicted of a felony.
- Any adult or juvenile who is newly convicted of a misdemeanor, but has a prior felony conviction on their record (in California or in another state).
- Any adult or juvenile who is in custody, or on probation or parole, or another form of supervised release after being convicted of any felony committed before November 3, 2004.
- Anyone who registers as an arson or sex offender, even if it was a misdemeanor offense qualifies for DNA collection.
- Adults arrestedfor a felony PC 290 sex offense, voluntary manslaughter, or murder, or an attempt to commit any of these crimes, or any felony offense are subject to having their DNA collected.
In summary, any adult arrested of a felony offense is subject to DNA collection and any adult or juvenile convicted of a felony offense will have their DNA collected.
When is DNA collected? “If an individual is arrested for a felony crime and booked while in custody, DNA is properly collected along with fingerprints and photographs during the administrative steps taken to identify the individual attendant to the booking process,” according to the State of California Department of Justice Office of the Attorney General.
Afraid of having your DNA collected in a criminal proceeding? Contact our firm at once to meet with an East Bay criminal defense lawyer.