TRENTON – The Assembly passed a bill that would require individuals arrested on suspicion of most violent crimes to contribute samples to New Jersey’s DNA database by a vote of 67-4-7 last week. The bill now goes to the governor for his consideration.
Current DNA law only requires samples to be taken from individuals convicted of most violent crimes.
The bill (A-2594) would amend the state’s “DNA Database and Databank Act of 1994” to require DNA samples from anyone arrested on suspicion of these crimes: murder; manslaughter; second degree aggravated assault when the person attempts to cause or causes serious bodily injury to another or causes bodily injury while fleeing or attempting to flee a law enforcement officer; kidnapping; luring or enticing a child; engaging in sexual conduct which would impair or debauch the morals of a child; or aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual contact, criminal sexual contact or an attempt to commit any of these offenses.
The bill also stipulates that if the charges against a person from whom a DNA sample was collected are dismissed, or if a person is acquitted at trial, the sample would be destroyed, and all related records expunged, upon request by an individual.
In order to ensure compliance with DNA collection, the bill would also make it a crime of the fourth degree for any person who knowingly refuses to submit to the collection of a blood or biological sample. A crime of the fourth degree is punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to 18 months, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.
The FBI uses a system called CODIS (Combined DNA Index System) to provide for the storage and exchange of DNA records on a national basis. CODIS consists of a “forensic” index containing DNA profiles from crime scene evidence. It also has an “offender” index, with DNA profiles of convicted offenders. By electronically comparing DNA profiles from those indexes, analysts often are able to obtain “hits” (or matches) between DNA found at crime scenes and DNA profiles of convicted offenders. Analysts also can link multiple, unsolved crimes to a single perpetrator by comparing profiles in the forensic database.
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