News from State Assemblywoman Sandy Galef’s Office on a law requiring DNA samples from those convicted of felonies:
Assemblywoman Galef announced the law creating a new all crimes DNA databank took effect in August 2012. Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation A9555 (Ch. 19 of 2012) into law requiring DNA samples to be collected from anyone convicted of a felony or Penal Law misdemeanor. This legislation allows defendants to obtain DNA testing prior to trial to express their innocence and also permits defendants convicted after a guilty plea to have access to such testing.
“I am pleased that New York has taken a leadership role among all states in using DNA to solve criminal cases,” said Assemblywoman Galef. “This new law will not only help us solve and prevent crimes but also help bring justice to the innocent.”
The DNA Databank was originally created in 1996 to maintain DNA profiles of convicted offenders and has been expanded five times to increase the number of convictions that require a DNA sample. Previously, state law only permitted DNA to be collected from 48 percent of offenders convicted of a Penal Law crime even though many of these crimes were statistically proven to be precursors to violent offenses.
The DNA databank has been extremely successful in the past, helping in the prosecutions of nearly 3,000 people, including 626 sexual offense cases and 202 murder cases. DNA evidence also has helped acquit 27 New Yorkers. This law will facilitate the exculpation of countless individuals from suspicion, preventing long and grueling investigations.
This legislation also clarifies the authority of a court to order post-conviction testing when a defendant has filed a motion to vacate a conviction and the court finds that such testing would help determine the person’s innocence.
“Increasing the DNA databank will help law enforcement solve many more cases, making our area a safer place to live,” Galef said. “With this law, the guilty will be rightfully penalized for their crimes.”