Of the many reasons why accused defendants should seek experienced
criminal defense counsel, the growing importance of DNA evidence looms large. Prosecutions
for everything from
sex crimes to
weapons charges frequently depend on genetic testing, and officials nationwide have created
state forensic databases to keep a record of DNA samples from people who
have been convicted of crimes.
When Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed New York's new DNA database law back
in March, he approved a genetic evidence dragnet that commentators are
calling the most expansive in the country. The new law requires collection
of DNA from all defendants convicted of any crime, including all penal
In support of the Senate Bill 6733, some legislators argued that people
who commit murder, rape and other serious crimes also commit less serious
crimes in advance. Due to collection of DNA from all individuals convicted
of a felony or Penal Law misdemeanor, crime solving and prevention will
gain an edge.
The political wrangling over New York's new DNA database law did include
some concessions, such as an exemption for people who do not have a criminal
record before a conviction for minor marijuana possession or smoking in
plain view. The law also provides defendants who maintain their innocence
with rights to seek exoneration through DNA testing.
However, several provisions that would have better protected defendants
from wrongful convictions were stripped from the bill before passage.
Important safeguards that did not survive include mandatory videotaping
of interrogations by police, as well as "double blind" lineups
to ensure that neither witnesses nor police who administer lineups are
aware of the of the suspect's identity.
Challenging The Validity Of DNA Evidence
A recent news item pointed out how undependable DNA evidence can be. After
news outlets widely reported a connection between the murder of a Juilliard
student and Occupy Wall Street participants based on matched DNA samples,
news quickly emerged that the sample may have been contaminated at an NYPD lab.
Even the presence of a legitimate DNA sample at a crime scene can trigger
a headlong rush to criminal suspicion. People caught in the crosshairs
of investigator's interest can discuss an immediate and aggressive
defense strategy with an NYC criminal defense attorney.