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Arrest in New Jersey might soon include a DNA sample

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.

Source: "Assembly bill would require anyone arrested in N.J. to give DNA sample" by Christopher Baxter: June 23, 2011