“Physical evidence is any tangible evidence that can connect an offender to a crime scene. Biological evidence, which contains DNA, is a type of physical evidence,” says the National Institute of Justice (NIJ). All biological evidence, including skin, saliva, semen, vaginal fluid, hair, and even vomit and feces can be tested for DNA in a criminal investigation.
DNA technology has jumped by leaps and bounds in recent years. Thanks to DNA, cold cases are being solved and even some of the wrongfully convicted are being released from prison. But understandably, DNA testing has a lot of people worried. Will they be convicted of crimes they committed years ago in their youth? Will their DNA be taken after an arrest, only for it to wrongfully convict them of a crime they didn’t commit one day in the future?
If you’re facing criminal charges in Florida, you may have questions about your DNA. When does the state take criminal defendant’s DNA? Will you be required to provide a sample? Will the DNA laws be changing anytime soon? You have questions and you deserve answers. In this post, we will give a brief description of Florida’s DNA laws so you know what to expect in regards to DNA testing and criminal cases.
Crime and DNA in Florida
For starters, let’s take a look at which criminal defendants are legally required to provide samples of their DNA. Under Section 943.325 of the Florida Statutes, anyone convicted of the following crimes must provide a sample of their DNA:
- Any felony offense, including felony DUI
- Sex crime misdemeanors
- Gang-related crimes
- Certain offenses associated with obscene materials
Under Sec. 943.325 of the Florida Statutes, it reads: “It is the policy of this state to assist federal, state, and local criminal justice and law enforcement agencies in the identification and detection of individuals in criminal investigations and the identification and location of missing unidentified persons.”
The statute continues, “... it is in the best interests of citizens of this state to establish a statewide DNA database containing DNA samples submitted by persons convicted of or arrested for felony offenses and convicted of certain misdemeanor offenses.”
DNA Samples for Certain Arrestees
You don’t have to be necessarily “convicted” of a crime to face the possibility of giving a sample of your DNA. As mentioned above, Sec. 943.325 of the Florida Statutes states that people who are arrested for certain felonies are required to provide a DNA sample. And, after January 1, 2019, anyone arrested of a felony offense will be required by law to provide a sample of their DNA. “What about juveniles?” The DNA laws regarding sample collection apply to juveniles as well – they are not exempt.
“Can the state go back and ask for DNA from someone who was convicted of a felony in the past?” Yes, this is possible. Suppose someone was convicted of a felony in the past and they insist they are innocent. In this case, the defendant themselves can ask for post-conviction DNA testing. However, the defendant’s application must show the court that there is a reasonable possibility that they could be innocent.
If someone was facing felony charges and they pled no contest or guilty after July 1, 2006 and they were convicted, they can apply for DNA testing under limited circumstances. If you’re interested in getting more information, feel free to contact us if you have questions about how the state preserves biological evidence.
We hope this information has helped you better understand Florida’s DNA laws. To seek legal help, we encourage you to reach out to Thomas & Paulk, P.A. for further assistance.
If you need an experienced Tampa criminal defense attorney to defend you, contact our firm at once for the hard-hitting representation you deserve.