DNA is a vital component of criminal justice in the United States. The invisible evidence that people leave behind at the scene of a crime can be a deciding factor in determining a suspect’s guilt or innocence. Genetic identification techniques, as people using services like 23andMe well know, can also tell men and women about their ancestors. Interestingly, as more and more people utilize ancestry services, it has had an unintended impact on some of our nation’s more notable cold cases.
It just so happens that perpetrators don’t have to have their DNA sequenced for investigators to determine who was behind a specific act. One need only look at the recent apprehension of Joseph James DeAngelo, who is better known as the ‘Golden State Killer.’ DeAngelo is accused of committing 12 murders and more than 50 rapes, according to Wired. While DeAngelo never sought to learn about his familial history, one of his relatives did; and, thanks to a technique sometimes referred to genetic triangulation, it’s now possible to learn the identity of a murderer.
The importance of genetic testing is abundantly clear, not just for convicting criminals but for exonerating innocent people who’ve been serving time for crimes they did not commit.
DNA In Orange County
In the wake of the recent election, there are significant changes on the horizon across California, especially in Orange County. One such alteration could mean the end of more than a decade-old DNA collection program at the Orange County District Attorney’s office.
Eleven years ago, OC District Attorney Tony Rackauckas started a unique DNA testing program that is independent of the OC Crime Lab, The Orange County Register reports. More than a decade ago, the DA’s office began collecting genetic samples from low-level offenders; since that time, the office has amassed 176,000 unique genetic samples for their database. From its conception, Rackauckas’ private pool of double helices has resulted in 725 investigative leads; the database also had a role in finding the Golden State Killer.
Many of our readers are aware that after 20 years in office, Rackauckas is on the way out after losing his re-election bid. Now, the fate of his database is teetering on the edge of being dissolved; the incoming District Attorney – county Supervisor Todd Spitzer – has yet to intimate if he will continue Rackauckas’ program, according to the article. It is worth noting that no other DA has a similar DNA database at their disposal.
“I have some serious concerns about the DNA initiative,” Spitzer said in an interview. He adds, “I plan to bring in experts to advise me. I am not convinced the D.A. needs its own crime lab…”
The has long been ethics concerns about offering low-level criminals get-out-of-jail-free-cards, or nearly free. Offenders facing jail time for petty offense would pay a $75 processing fee and provide the DA’s office a genetic sample. The idea is that those who commit a misdemeanor today may engage in felonious acts down the road; having DNA on file could be pivotal to discovering a perp’s identity. According to the article, some local defense attorneys refer to the DNA program as “spit and acquit.”
Orange County Criminal Defense
We invite you to contact The Law Office of Ronald G. Brower if you are facing criminal charges in California. Attorney Brower has the experience to provide you or a loved one with excellent legal representation.