When investigating a crime, law enforcement can utilize two ways to collect DNA from a suspect. If there is probable cause, police can get a search warrant for the collection of DNA from a suspect. If law enforcement do not have probable cause for a search warrant, however, they can put a suspect under surveillance. At this time, if the suspect discards of anything that may include their DNA, police can (and will) retrieve the item for testing.
Though the latter may seem like an unlawful procedure, this is actually a very acceptable way to collect DNA in investigations. The Golden State Killer case is a recent example of law enforcement's successful collection of DNA with a suspect under surveillance. Police were able to collect several sample items from the trash can outside of the suspect's home and were able to swab his door handle in a public parking lot. After testing, the crime lab found that his DNA matched samples of DNA collected at several crime scenes related to the case. Though the suspect has not yet been convicted, or even gone to trial, this DNA collection did lead to his arrest and charge of twelve murders.
Thankfully, Louisiana has never known a serial killer like the Golden State Killer, but we have had our fair share. In fact, our very own Derrick Todd Lee, whose DNA linked him to seven area murders, changed the way Louisiana authorities collect DNA. Since Lee committed other crimes and spent time in jail during his 11-year killing spree, authorities felt that they should have caught him much sooner if they'd applied a DNA collection law for specific crimes. This led to new laws that would make Louisiana's DNA database the most expansive for the population in the United States.
Just how did it grow so quickly? Louisiana authorities learned quickly and became the first state to pass a DNA collection law that would require the collection of DNA from arrestees. According to Louisiana law (RS 15:609), the following require DNA sampling:
Collections are taken upon booking, or, if a person is not already confined upon sentencing, the collection is taken immediately after sentencing. If DNA is not collected upon booking, it must be collected prior to the release of the offender.
Has your DNA been collected as a result of an arrest or charge? Has your DNA been collected because you are a suspect of a crime? Call Kevin Stockstill today for reliable, experienced criminal defense and to ensure that your case is handled correctly.