TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Nicholas J. Sacco which would expand New Jersey’s DNA database law to require more violent arrestees to submit DNA samples to the database in order to solve unsolved New Jersey crimes was approved by the Assembly on Wednesday by a vote of 66 to 3 with nine abstentions, receiving final legislative approval.
“DNA sampling has the crime-fighting potential to be the 21st Century’s answer to fingerprinting,” said Senator Sacco, D-Hudson and Bergen. “This technology is a tried and true method of either establishing a person’s innocence or cracking a previously unsolved case. By expanding the collection of DNA samples, we’re giving law enforcement an edge in the war on crime.”
The bill, S-737, would require an individual arrested on suspicion of certain violent crimes to submit a DNA sample for inclusion in the State’s DNA Database. Among the crimes for which arrestees would be required to submit to DNA sampling are: murder, manslaughter, second-degree aggravated assault; kidnapping; luring or enticing a child; engaging in sexual conduct with a child; and sexual assault. The bill would also create a crime of the fourth degree – punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to 18 months and a fine of up to $10,000, or both – to knowingly refuse to submit to the collection of a blood or biological sample.
Finally, the bill would ensure for the destruction and expungement of DNA records from the database if a person is acquitted at trial, or if the chargers against the person were dismissed by the court.
Under the State’s current DNA law, individuals only submit to DNA sampling if they had been convicted of a violent crime, at which point their DNA sample is compared to a second database of samples of DNA taken at a crime scene. If the computer comes back with a DNA match, the evidence has the potential to either solve previously unsolved crimes or set innocent people free.
“I want to thank my Assembly colleagues, particularly Assemblywoman Joan Quigley, who fought to expand this invaluable law enforcement tool,” said Senator Sacco. “With the advance of technology, we can and should make use of sophisticated tools to solve otherwise unsolvable crimes. Through this legislation, we’re taking a significant step to protect innocent New Jerseyans and put criminals behind bars.”
The bill now heads to the Governor to be signed into law. It was approved by the Senate by a vote of 33-2 last June.