State Senator Suzi Oppenheimer (D-Mamaroneck) today expressed her strong support for legislation expanding the list of criminals who must submit DNA samples to the State DNA database. The bill (S.8446) was one of a series of tough new proposals designed to fight crime that were passed by the Senate in the waning hours of the 2006 Legislative Session. The legislation was agreed to after extensive negotiations between the Senate, State Assembly and the Governor’s office.
"New York State now has the means to prosecute more crimes than ever. The previous requirements for the database didn’t even mandate that all convicted felons submit samples. Just as disturbing is the fact that only a few misdemeanors required samples," Senator Oppenheimer noted. "That has all changed with this legislation."
The bill requires that a person convicted of any felony under the State’s penal law now has to submit a DNA sample. In addition, certain misdemeanor offenders would, for the first time, be required to provide a DNA sample.
The misdemeanor offenses for which samples must be provided include various categories of assault and attempted aggravated assault; attempted menacing; reckless endangerment; stalking and attempted stalking; forcible touching; sexual abuse; unlawful imprisonment and attempted unlawful imprisonment; criminal trespass; possession of burglar’s tools; petit larceny; or endangering the welfare of a child or an incompetent or physically disabled person.
The Westchester lawmaker noted that there are some 130,000 misdemeanor and felony convictions in the state every year. She added that people convicted of lower level crimes often commit more serious offenses, if they haven’t done so already.
"With the enactment of this legislation, law enforcement agencies will be better able to identify criminals and make our community safer," Senator Oppenheimer added.
The DNA expansion legislation compliments another bill recently approved that eliminates the statute of limitations for first degree rape, criminal sexual act in the first degree, first degree aggravated sexual abuse and sexual conduct against a child in the first degree prosecutions. That bill also extends the limitations period from one year to five years for victims to file civil actions against their abusers.
"Science and technology have enabled law enforcement to make quantum leaps in criminal investigations. We have finally given our dedicated police officers and investigators the means to link crimes in different areas and, just as important, even prove the innocence of those wrongly accused and convicted," Senator Oppenheimer said.
"Today we have taken a great step forward in protecting all New Yorkers. This common sense legislation sends a clear message that we will continue to take advantage of every technological advantage available to us to ensure our safety," Senator Oppenheimer concluded.