Friday, February 12, 2010

DNA testing rules may change - WISCONSIN LAW JOURNAL

by Jack Zemlicka

When a person is convicted of a felony in Wisconsin, a DNA sample is taken and stored in a state database.

But legislators are proposing a change that would require police to collect DNA from every adult who is arrested for a felony and every juvenile who is taken into custody for sexual assault offenses that would be felonies if committed by an adult.

Senate Bill 336 received a public hearing in December. Its companion, Assembly Bill 336, is still waiting to be scheduled by the Assembly Committee on Criminal Justice.

Some criminal defense attorneys argue that the proposed change would violate the Fourth Amendment and could result in innocent people’s DNA being on file with the Department of Justice.

Hurley, Burish & Stanton, S.C. attorney Erik R. Guenther said that the current process of having a judge determine whether to grant an order for DNA is preferable.

“The legislature is looking at allowing highly intrusive searches without any judicial oversight,” he said.

Guenther is a board member of the State Bar of Wisconsin’s Individual Rights and Responsibilities Section, which is opposing the bills on the grounds that they violate the Fourth Amendment and are unconstitutional.

The basis of that opposition, said Guenther, is that DNA analysis provides much more information about a person than just fingerprints or a photograph.

Further, he argued, “for situations in which there was no finding of probable cause to continue with criminal prosecution, access to someone’s DNA sample would be of no benefit to anyone in the legal system.”

The full article is available here.


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