Monday, February 2, 2009

Big Brother and Criminal Law: Bill Requiring Everyone Arrested for a Felony to Submit DNA Sample

Senate Bill 24, authored by Senator Joseph Zakas R-Evansville, would require that anyone who is arrested for a felony be required to submit a DNA sample. The bill, which was originally assigned to the Rules Committee, was amended, and has been reassigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The application of this requirement to mere arrestees to me smacks of the worst kind of Big Brotherism. If you were talking about people who had been convicted of a felony that would one thing. But this bill would apply the DNA requirement to people who are merely accused of a felony. Our law firm handles criminal cases and we are constantly seeing individuals who are innocent being charged with felonies only to have those charges later dropped for lack of merit.

The Marion County Prosecutor's Office in particular does a poor job of screening cases before filing criminal charges. I had one client involved in a domestic dispute who was charged with felony battery for supposedly hitting her husband in front of their child. The case was so weak that the Prosecutor's Office at the end was offering to dismiss the charges completely in return for diversion. Then, in another case, recounted here on these pages, I had a mentally handicapped client who was charged with felony robbery based solely on one clerk's statement. During the time of the "robbery" though he and his brother, had gone across town to eat lunch, a fact captured on several surveillance cameras.

To me, simply being a accused of a felony is insufficient to require that someone submit DNA as part of a criminal database. While the bill only provides that the DNA will be used by local officials, what prevents the person's DNA from being put into a national database? This is a Big Brother reform that we do not need.

16 comments:

Sean Shepard said...

I read about this bill as well and it definitely raised about half a dozen red flags.

I agree with your assessment Paul.

Diana Vice said...

It's bills like these that make me nervous every time the state legislature is in session.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Sean, what is ironic is that there are a ton of Libertarian-minded Republicans who find this type of thing offensive. But they won't speak up.

burlingtonasacoach said...

Paul

They won't speak up until they are the one's submitting their DNA sample because they were arrested and accused of committing a felony. This bill is ripe for citizen abuse by police officers doing fishing expeditions.

Leslie Sourwine

Diana Vice said...

One big problem that I have is that the definition of "felony" keeps changing. I have a law-abiding friend who has a felony on his record in Tippecanoe County after he was charged with a 100-year-old law that was dusted off and used against him after a neighbor complained about my friend's cows continually getting into his field and ruining crops. My friend plead guilty to a misdemeanor rather than go the route of an expensive jury trial, and part of his probation agreement called for him to give up his fourth amendment right, which meant little brother could visit his home any time. They did, and they found dead pig carcasses on his properly. They claimed that my friend didn't properly dispose of the carcasses and that the pig deaths constituted animal cruelty. My friend was a hog farmer and had to give up his business as a result. Farmers testified at his sentencing hearing that it is normal for a hog farmer to have dead carcasses on a hog farm at any given time; however, this judge wanted to make an example of my friend. At the sentencing, he told my friend that he could come back after a year, and if he had completed his 100 hours of community service, he would reduce the charges to a misdemeanor. My friend went back recently to ask that the charges be reduced; however, the prosecutor refused; therefore, my friend cannot exercise his 2nd amendment right due to the felony. He is stuck with a felony record just because a cow got in his neighbor's field. Once you're in the system, it becomes a nightmare and nearly impossible to get out. The judicial system in Tippecanoe County is why many move into border counties. It's absolutely amazing what goes on there.

I have not exaggerated this story one bit. Go check it out. You'll find it in Judge Les Meade's court under the file State vs. Jon Held.

HOOSIERS FOR FAIR TAX said...

So before proven guilty one must pony up the DNA?

It's sounding more and more like a socialist country every day around here.

Diana Vice said...

This would be an absolute violation of the Fourth Amendment. Every citizen has a right to due process, and anyone who is arrested is to be considered innocent before proven guilty. How can they force DNA from an "innocent" person? Surely the legislators can find better use of their time.

Thomas Jefferson was right when he said, "It is to secure our rights that we resort to government at all."

straight up said...

Paul, here is some food for thought.
Public Safety Director Scott Newman's private company for DNA testing, has sent dozens of gun swabs for DNA testing , along with swabs that the IMPD has been instructed by Newmans firm, to "offer" practically anyone stopped, for DNA inner cheek-cell swabbing. THis has been given to the NorthEast district for dissemination. Fortunately, most of those cops see the Big Brotherism inherant in collecting these, as well as profits to Newmans' company. Look into this if you have the time and inclination, its simply another conflict of interest not dissimilar to Bob Grand/CIB

Paul K. Ogden said...

Straight Up, Actually I know about Scott Newman's DNA firm though the scenario you described I did not know about.

To profit from this venture though Newman would have to have the bill passed by the General Assembly. I doubt it would get by the Democrat House. Really it's Republicans who should stop it. Unfortunately when it comes to law and order issues, many Republicans leave their libertarian instincts at home.

Sean Shepard said...

Here is the one I keep meaning to write about on my own BLOG and haven't yet.

Is everyone aware that the DNA of every newborn is now collected and sent to a Federal DNA database? This was largely a Democrat sponsored bill but there were a few (3 or 4 tops) Republican co-sponsors. Coleman (still recounting in MN) and Lugar.

The DNA collection does not require parental notification of permission and my wife and I will find out in a few months if the hospital or the state gives us any grief when we present a letter denying permission to steal our newborn's DNA sample and send it away to the archives.

As is typical when nobody wants to go on record, I believe this bill passed by "unanimous declaration" and then was signed by Bush.

I get mad enough thinking about it I might post something yet this evening.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a good incentive for home birth.

Sean Shepard said...

There is a so-so documentary called "The Business of Being Born" that promotes the idea of home birth. I thought it was worth the watch. Last time I checked, it was available to watch on-line at NetFlix.

Downtown Indy said...

Instead of being carved in stone, these days the Constitution seems to be carved in ice and at every angle people are chipping at it with picks or applying hot air in an effort to melt it away.

burlingtonasacoach said...

When laws like this are passed someone besides taxpayers is receiving money. Anyone have any idea just how many small time crimes are now classified as a felony? IF this law passes but the bottom dollar there will be more felonies laws listed on the books

Leslie Sourwine

Anonymous said...

But if you have nothing to hide...

Move to France. America's dead.

These hicks find no expansion of police power to be unpalatable.

Anonymous said...

This is another way Ballard and his crooked cronies are milking our crime prevention dollars. Scott Newman will get millions from this DNA fishing expedition and their friends in the prison business will get more inmates as they illegally arrest people for felonies, and they'll report inflatd arrest numbers so as to get MORE federal dollars and to hoodwink the public into thinking they are getting the felones off the street, when in reality, they are arresting innocent people and hiring felones to play video games on the 25th floor....this city SUCKS!!!!!!!!!

We need to get the Department of Justice on Scott Newman and Ballard.