Advances in DNA research and technology have forever changed the criminal justice system. The use of DNA evidence in courts can make or break cases, providing evidence that can help prove the guilt or innocence of a defendant.
In Ohio, the DNA laws were recently changed to allow law enforcement officials to further use DNA evidence when investigating crimes.
Senate Bill 268 was recently signed into law by Ohio Gov. John Kasich. The bill was written to give investigators an expanded ability to collect DNA from a person who they have probable cause to believe committed a felony crime.
DNA can be used like a modern day fingerprint to pinpoint a suspect to a crime scene.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine applauded the new change in the state’s DNA laws, stating that the measure will help expand the state’s DNA database and ultimately lead to identifying suspects in many criminal investigations. This will help law enforcement get justice for victims of crimes and get violent criminals off the streets, DeWine said.
The attorney general noted that Senate Bill 268 closes several gaps left open by Senate Bill 77, which went into effect last year. Senate Bill 77 allowed for DNA collection only from those who had been arrested for a felony crime. The new law now allows specimen collection from anyone who is indicted by a grand jury or summoned into court on felony charges.
The new also protects those who are required to give a DNA sample, but are later found not guilty of the suspected crime. If a jury returns a not guilty verdict or if the case is dismissed, the case record and all DNA profiles can be sealed, according to the attorney general.
DNA evidence has been used to convict suspects, but in many cases it has been used to prove a defendant’s innocence. In many cases, defendants who have been sentenced to serve lengthy prison terms after being convicted of serious crimes have been later found innocent and released from custody because of new DNA evidence.
With this in mind, defendants who claim their innocence after being charged with a serious crime should have no problem with this new DNA law.