The governor of Indiana, Eric Holcomb, signed a bill into law earlier this year that allows law enforcement to collect DNA from individuals arrested on felony charges. The law, Act 322, requires any person arrested on a felony charge subsequent to December 31, 2017, to provide a DNA sample through a cheek swab. The law prohibits the sample from being shipped for identification unless probable cause has been determined for a felony arrest, or the individual was arrested on a warrant. Prior to the signing of this bill, the state was only permitted to collect DNA after conviction.
Under the law, the officers who make such a felony arrest are required to inform the arrestee of the process to remove their DNA and to also give them information and a form concerning how their DNA sample may be expunged from the record.
Our team at Hessler Law has experience working on both sides of the legal system – the prosecution side and the defense side. We’re here to work diligently on your behalf to protect your rights and defend you vigorously against the charges you are facing. An Indianapolis criminal defense lawyer from our team can help you.
The Development of the DNA Collection Law
The bill, which has now become law, was debated last year after it had originally allowed for a DNA sample to stay in the system even if charges were not filed after an arrest, or if a dismissal was eventually made of any filed charges.
The bill in its final form, which was signed by the governor, stipulates that the DNA sample may be expunged from the database under certain conditions – which will be mentioned in detail below.
The effect of the law is to enlarge the state of Indiana’s DNA database. Supporters of the law believe that it will help law enforcement solve violent felony crimes such as rape, and also enhance their ability to clear those who are innocent.
Concerns and Modifications to the Law
As the bill was moving through the legislative process in the state House and Senate, lawmakers determined that it was necessary to add certain protections for innocent individuals who are falsely arrested and have their DNA captured by the government. These changes were made in response to opponents of the legislation on the grounds of privacy concerns and too much government intrusion in the lives of citizens.
Concerns were raised that the state’s DNA database could be penetrated and used for criminal purposes to frame individuals for crimes they did not commit.
However, others argued that the practice of taking DNA with a cheek swab is the same in principle as taking a fingerprint. A U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2013 also affirmed that taking a DNA sample at the time of arrest does not violate an individual’s Fourth Amendment Constitutional right against unreasonable search and seizure.
Removal of a DNA Sample
Within the legislation, lawmakers stipulated certain scenarios that allow an individual to have their DNA expunged from the database. As individual who has been arrested and given a DNA sample, you can have this expungement done when:
- The charges against you are dismissed
- You are acquitted
- The judge reduces your felony to a misdemeanor
- You’re arrested but not charged with the crime within a period of one year
However, the suspect, and not the government, must begin the process for removing the DNA sample. This provision was not agreed with by some of the opponents to the law – they argued that the expungement of the DNA sample should be automatic if the arrest on the felony charge does not hold up in the end. As previously mentioned, however, the police are required to inform the suspect who has been arrested of the DNA removal process when the sample is taken. If the individual qualifies to have their sample removed, they would need to fill out a form to have their DNA sample removed from the system.
Contact an Experienced Indianapolis Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you’ve been charged with a crime in the state of Indiana, you may not know exactly how to proceed forward. Our team at Hessler Law can help you understand your options and formulate a strong defense in your case. With a successful track record of defending clients against felony and other types of charges, we’re committed to fighting hard on your behalf.
Call us today at (317) 886-8800 to set up a free case evaluation.