DNA Samples Can Be Obtained Without A Conviction

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JEFFERSON CITY - Police officials in Missouri said last week's ruling by the U. S. Supreme Court on a Maryland case that police can obtain DNA samples from someone who has been arrested but has not been convicted of a serious crime will not change policies here. Missouri is one of 28 states and the federal government that allow DNA samples to be taken before being convicted of a crime. Justice Anthony Kennedy said in a majority opinion DNA samples function like a fingerprint. "It uses a different form of identification than a name or fingerprint," Justice Kennedy wrote, "but its function is the same."

In accordance with Missouri statutes, DNA can be obtained if:

  • a person has a felony conviction
  • a person is arrested for violent or sexual offenses

While DNA samples can be taken prior to a conviction, there are ways for the samples to be expunged. If the arrestee isn't charged or prosecuted, or is acquitted, the DNA sample is removed from the system.

Lieutenant John Hotz of the Missouri State Highway Patrol said having access to more DNA samples has been beneficial.  

Hotz said a change is evident between 2004 and 2005.  IN 2004, investigators were limited to DNA samples from convicted inmates only. In 2005, investigators could also access samples from suspect. "We went from 41 hits in 2004 to 175 hits in 2005," Hotz said.

Hotz said the DNA hits continue to increase.

"Now that we have the arrestee samples in there as well, we have anywhere from the high 700s to almost 900 hits each year." Lieutenant Hotz said.  

The DNA samples are turned over to law enforcement agencies to use in identifying suspects.

"If an unknown sample is collected from a crime scene of a DNA nature, it will get compared with this ever growing DNA database of people who have provided those samples." Major Tom Reddin of the Boone County Sheriff's Department said. "It can either be eliminated as a possible connection to a crime or it can be used to link an individual to a possible crime."

Reddin said having more DNA in the database is a great tool to use in solving cases.