National DNA Databases
Since the introduction of DNA profiling in the mid 80s, many nations have started compiling DNA profile databases. These databases contain DNA profiles of offenders, and in some situations already of suspects. DNA profiling has been around for over two decades now, but databases of DNA profiles keep a highly controversial issue.
The first such database was established in the UK in 1995, known as the NDNAD. The first database in the United States was the FBI’s CODIS database, which has been operational since 1998. In addition, many states have their own individual databases. California’s own database, for example, is the third largest in the world, after CODIS and the UK’s database.
Regulations for these databases vary from country to country. In California and the UK, already people arrested on suspicion of a crime are required to submit a DNA sample. The government of Sweden, in contrast, only takes DNA samples from people who have been in prison at the minimum two years and are considered likely to commit another crime. The government of Portugal recently decided to compile a DNA database of all its citizens.
Countries also vary in their procedures for keeping samples. In the case of the UK’s database, samples are only taken on arrest if the crime in question is one that would go on the person’s criminal record. In England and Wales, already if charges are dropped or they are acquitted, the DNA record remains. Scotland, in contrast, requires removal of the record if a person is acquitted.
The FBI’s CODIS database generally only covers people who have been convicted of a felony, with mandatory DNA collection for violent offenses. Originally CODIS was produced for storing the information of sex offenders. On the state level, only three states do not have mandatory DNA collection for convicted felons.
Criticism of these databases generally centers around privacy and civil liberties concerns. The possibility of a database of DNA information for every citizen is a chilling prospect for many, since that kind of information could rule to disastrous results if abused or alternation. In addition, errors in the storage or use of such information could rule to false convictions. Given how “watertight” DNA evidence is ordinarily believed to be, such mistakes could have tragic results.
If you have been arrested on suspicion of a felony offense in the State of California, the State is likely to require submission of a DNA sample. A qualified criminal defense attorney can help you defend yourself from these charges. The San Jose criminal defense attorney Daniel Jensen has the experience to help you. To learn more about how he can help, call Daniel Jensen today.