Under current Texas law, law enforcement officers collect DNA samples from suspects only when they are facing certain felony charges. A proposed measure filed by State Rep. Reggie Smith would expand the collection of DNA samples from more defendants in criminal investigations. According to the bill, law enforcement officers would take the DNA samples at the time of arrest.
In 2001, Texas passed the first law in the country to mandate the collection of DNA samples from some felony offenders. Eighteen states require DNA samples by given by all individuals facing felony charges at the time of their arrests. In these states, the mandatory collection of DNA samples has resulted in more DNA matches in pending criminal cases, more arrests, and more convictions. Even if the proposed measure passed this year, Texas still would not require the submission of DNA samples in all felony arrests.
However, these DNA samples often remain on file even if the individuals later are exonerated of the crime, which drew objections from at least one state representative. State Rep. Tony Tinderholt, a member of the public safety committee, raised concerns about the DNA of individuals remaining in a law enforcement agency DNA database even if they later are found innocent of the crime. He would like to see a mechanism to remove the DNA from the database in these situations.
The usage of DNA in law enforcement investigations in Austin has been the subject of many media reports over the last few years due to the large number of unprocessed rape kits that came to light due to backlogs in the police lab. The city has taken measures to remedy the problems with processing these samples. If you or a family member is facing any type of criminal charges, we may be able to help. As experienced Texas criminal defense attorneys, we have the knowledge needed to help you navigate through often-complex criminal proceedings. Call us today at (512) 474-4445 and schedule an appointment with one of our criminal defense lawyers and learn how we can assist you.