OKLAHOMA – Oklahomans arrested for felony crimes could soon be required to submit their DNA under a bill that has cleared the Oklahoma senate.
The bill will now go to the governor for consideration.
Those behind it said it will help catch criminals and solve cold cases.
Leslie Katzilierakis is in charge of the state crime DNA database.
“We can get results in as soon as 24 hours. We can put samples into the database in 36 hours,” she said.
Right now, they only test DNA from people convicted of certain felonies, but a bill by Sen. Clark Jolley would extend that to those arrested on felony charges before they’re brought to trial.
“If you take it at booking with the fingerprints and with mug shot, it’s no different than a fingerprint,” he said.
That’s why he said more and more states are passing similar laws that have been found by the US Supreme Court to be constitution.
“When you have DNA taken, you know whether or not that DNA does or doesn’t match what is taken from the crime scene. It helps exonerate the innocent, and it helps convict the guilty,” Jolley said.
A person’s DNA information is expunged from the database if charges are dropped they are not held for trial.
The proposal would also would require DNA samples from people convicted of certain misdemeanor crimes, including drug possession, peeping Tom, and driving under the influence of a substance.
Jolley’s bill has prompted privacy concerns from opponents who said DNA samples should only be collected from people who are convicted of a crime.
“Many times, crimes are charged as felonies, and then they result in misdemeanor, or they result in dismissals or acquittals at trial,” said Billy Coyle.
Coyle is a local defense attorney.
He said taking DNA before a conviction could cause all types of problems.
“First of all is the presumption of innocence. You’re already going to get booked with a photo and fingerprints taken of you. And, you are always under the presumption you are innocent of the crimes you are charged,” he said.
It’s a debate that will likely continue with many in law enforcement backing the bill in hopes of solving cold cases.
The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation said, if it had passed two years ago, hundreds of crimes including 14 murders and 25 sex crimes would have been prevented.
If the governor signs the proposal, Oklahoma would become the 29th state to require this type of testing.