Senate Passes Skelos Bill To Expand And Enhance Dna Database

Dean G. Skelos

May 22, 2007

The New York State Senate today will act on legislation (S.5848), sponsored by Senator Dean Skelos (R, Rockville Center) that would expand the State’s DNA database to include samples from every person convicted of a crime. The bill will also improve the methods for collection and preservation of DNA evidence and extend the statute of limitations for cases based on DNA evidence.

"The DNA databank is a powerful tool that law enforcement can use to prosecute criminals and protect victims," Senator Dean Skelos said. "Last year we in the Senate pushed for and won a critical expansion of the database to include tens of thousands of additional DNA samples. Increasing the scope of the DNA database and extending the statute of limitations for DNA cases has been a priority of the Senate for many years and something we will continue to fight for."

Last year,a law authored by Senator Skelos tripled the size of the stateDNA databank byincludingsamples from criminals convicted of all felonies and the most common misdemeanors. Senator Skelos' new legislationstrengthens this law by mandating that authorities collect DNA from every person convicted of a crime, as well as individuals on probation, parole supervision or registered as sex offenders.

This legislation further increases the impact of the DNA database by extending the statute of limitations for DNA cases. DNA evidence is considered the most effective technique for identifying the perpetrator of a crime. A DNA sample found at a crime seen remains incredibly accurate, regardless of how much time passes. Understanding the unique nature of DNA as evidence in an investigation makes this extension of the statute of limitations a critical way of utilizing the database.

The bill includes several provisions to expand the scope and effectiveness of DNA collection:

* Expands the application for DNA collection to cover all convictions, including various misdemeanors, youthful offenders and registered sex offenders, in order to increase the utility of DNA in solving future crimes.

* Specifies the public officers responsible for collecting DNA samples from defendants to ensure that every person convicted of a crime has their DNA collected and added to the databank.

* Develops guidelines for the collection and preservation of DNA samples to establish effective and consistent practices whenever DNA is collected.

* Enhances the rights of criminal defendants by allowing them to apply for DNA testing before their trial begins and also in cases where they have previously pleaded guilty. The bill also expands the scope of a defendant‘s application to include a comparison between crime-scene evidence and DNA databanks.