If you’re a fan of popular television shows like CSI or FBI Files, you’re probably familiar with deoxyribonucleic acid, otherwise known as DNA, which gives law enforcement a suspect’s personal genetic blueprint.
Under Section 943.325 of the Florida Statutes, the Florida legislature has learned that DNA databases are “important tools in criminal investigations.” DNA databases help law enforcement identify suspects who are the target of criminal investigations, but equally important – these databases are critical in excluded suspects as well.
Essentially, the state of Florida, along with every other state, has determined that it’s in the best interests of the public to utilize statewide DNA databases, which contain DNA samples from individuals who have been convicted of certain misdemeanor offenses, and arrested for or convicted of certain felony offenses.
One of the most popular DNA database utilized by state and federal law enforcement is the Combined DNA Index System, or CODIS, which is the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s DNA database, that stores DNA records from local, state, and federal forensic DNA labs.
When biological evidence is recovered from a crime scene, it’s entered into CODIS, where it’s compared to profiles already stored in the system. Sometimes, matching profiles can link crime scenes together. When this happens, serial offenders, such as serial rapists and serial murderers can be identified by detectives. According to the FBI, “Matches made between the Forensic and Offender Indexes provide investigators with the identity of suspected perpetrators.”
Comparing DNA From a Database
DNA technology has changed police investigations and prosecutions. As a powerful law enforcement tool, it can be used to exclude suspects, but at the same time it can be used to link suspects to a crime that happened years before; DNA collected in Florida can also link a suspect to a crime that was committed in another state.
These days, DNA is even being used to solve rapes and homicides that occurred before DNA technology evolved to what it is today. In other words, DNA collected today is being used to solve cold cases, specifically those where blood or semen was left behind at the crime scene or on the victim’s body.
For example, suppose “John” is arrested for sexual assault. The state takes a sample of his DNA and it’s entered into CODIS. A year later, a detective re-opens a cold homicide case. He runs the sample of the unidentified suspect’s DNA in CODIS and there’s a hit; the DNA happens to be John’s. From there, the state will move swiftly to arrest John and put him on trial for murder.
Who Has to Submit Their DNA?
The million dollar question is, who has to submit their DNA? As of this writing, qualified offenders are generally adults and juveniles who have been convicted of sexually-motivated misdemeanors and misdemeanors involving criminal gangs, or committed or convicted of any felony offense.
Under Sec. 943.325, as of January 1, 2011 and through January 1, 2019, each year more DNA samples will be required for felony offenses, such as drug crimes, assault, sexual battery, and burglary. Under this predetermined schedule, each year more felony offenses will require DNA samples until they all require DNA samples from suspects.
By January 1, 2019, all suspects will be required to provide DNA samples for all felony offenses, including felony DUI. As of January 1, 2017, for example, all felonies defined under Chapter 893 started requiring DNA samples. Chapter 893 deals with various drug-related crimes.
If you are facing criminal charges for a gang-related or sexually-motivated misdemeanor, or a felony offense, it is possible that you will be required to give a sample of your DNA.
To learn more about the state’s DNA collection laws, contact our Tampa criminal defense firm for a free criminal defense consultation!