Adding a bit more information to our previous blog about DNA, Wisconsin residents may wish to note that the state Department of Justice is looking to solve more crimes in the future through updated collection requirements set to begin next year. They are expecting tens of thousands of additional DNA samples relating to violent felony arrests to arrive at the Madison crime lab. Crime labs are functioning in Madison, Milwaukee and Wausau. DNA testing is currently handled through the Milwaukee and Madison locations, but the additional samples will only be processed in Madison.
At present, the state obtains samples from convicted felons and from defendants in certain misdemeanor convictions relating to sex crimes. The new law goes into effect on April 1 and reportedly significantly expands the grounds for collection. From a criminal defense perspective, it will likely become even more critical that an accused person has an experienced advocate oversee the protection of his or her rights through the process.
According to the DOJ, local police will be required to take DNA from someone arrested on the suspicion of a violent felony, with the caveat that a judge must find probable cause a crime was committed in each case before it can be processed. Insofar as misdemeanors are concerned, any conviction carries with it the requirement of a DNA submission.
There are supporters and detractors of the law according to reports. Many are confident this type of DNA extraction and comparison will help solve more crimes. The other side of the issue put forth by civil rights proponents contends this expansion is an invasion of privacy.
Fighting for and protecting the rights of a defendant will continue to be an important part of legal processes. Other important skills for criminal defense include negotiating with prosecutors, solid trial preparation and a clear understanding of the evidence.
Source: The Chippewa Herald, “Wisconsin agency preps for big jump in DNA testing” Todd Richmond, Nov. 23, 2014