An individual arrested for a
weapons charge or other offense in Bergen County and throughout New Jersey may soon be
required to give a DNA sample upon their arrest. At the current time,
New Jersey law only requires DNA samples from persons convicted of crimes.
Amid concerns about privacy and costs for administering the program, the
legislation has been passed by the New Jersey State Assembly and is headed
to the governor.
Proponents of the legislation say that collecting DNA samples will allow
police to solve more crimes and they say DNA sampling is no more uncomfortable
for the individual than obtaining fingerprints.
Critics of the proposed law say that the taking of DNA from those arrested
is a violation of the Fourth Amendment which prevents unreasonable searches
and seizures. Appellate courts have offered mixed opinions about the practice
and the U.S. Supreme Court has yet to address the question.
Individuals who refuse a DNA sample could be subject to a prison term of
up to 18 months or a fine up to $10,000 or both.
The state would also need to have a policy in place that covers the sampling
procedure. At minimum, the sample would have to follow a chain of custody
beginning with the technician administering the test, transport to a lab
for testing and entry of the information into a database.
Some say just the extra cost of maintaining the database alone may not
be worth what the program purportedly offers in terms of enhanced ability
to solve crimes.
If the bill is signed by Gov. Chris Christie, provisions would have to
be made to cover the costs of the testing and to ensure the test results
are available to police and other officials.
"Assembly bill would require anyone arrested in N.J. to give DNA sample" by Christopher Baxter: June 23, 2011