New Jersey Legislation Will Require DNA from Innocent People

New Jersey compiles DNA profiles gathered at crime scenes and from convicted offenders into a database. Investigators combine these two classifications in order to link crime scenes with a possible suspect.

Under current New Jersey law, individuals who are convicted of most violent crimes must provide DNA samples to be entered into the New Jersey DNA database. A new bill that has made its way through the New Jersey legislature will now require people to submit their DNA to investigators, even if they are only arrested on a suspicion of a crime.

If enacted, the new legislation will require anyone who is simply suspected of the following crimes to contribute their DNA to the database:

  • Murder
  • Manslaughter
  • Second degree aggravated assault
  • Kidnapping
  • Luring or enticing a child
  • Sexual conduct which would impair the morals of a child
  • Aggravated sexual assault
  • Aggravated criminal sexual assault

Under the proposed legislation, someone would also be required to contribute their DNA, even if police only had a suspicion that the person might attempt to commit any of the above offenses. This would give authorities a very wide breadth to gather DNA samples of people who are not guilty of committing any crime.

The bill aims to protect innocent people who are falsely accused of committing a crime by providing that if charges are dismissed, or if the person is found to be innocent at trial, then the DNA sample would be destroyed. However, the innocent person would have to request that their record be destroyed. Unfortunately, many individuals who are not be represented by an experienced criminal defense attorney may not realize that they have such rights once the new law is enacted.

The bill will also allow criminal prosecution for anyone who refuses to submit their DNA for sampling. This means that even if an innocent suspect refuses to submit their blood for analysis, then they can still be criminally prosecuted. In such case, they could possibly be sent to jail for up to 18 months, and be required to pay a fine of up to $10,000. All of this would happen before they have been found guilty of any crime in New Jersey.

The bill is now awaiting the governor’s signature, and he is likely to sign it into law. Once this law is enacted, people who are held on suspicion of a crime in New Jersey should immediately seek an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help them to protect their rights.

Source:, “Bill to Expand NJ’s DNA Database Headed to Governor,” 5 July 2011

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