DNA privacy versus victims' rights could go before Texas Legislature

Texas has a huge backlog of unsolved cases and it's not known how many criminals are still roaming the streets.

State Rep. Reggie Smith (R) of Van Alstyne filed House Bill 1399 to require a DNA samples to be taken, at the time of arrest, for more felony offenses. This would expand the state’s DNA database in hopes police could easier link criminals to crimes.

Texas was leading DNA collection in 2001, now it's lagging.

Houston attorney Pierre Grosdidier said some criminals could be slipping through the cracks because of the current Texas law that requires DNA to be collected from people indicted for certain felony offenses.

"My concern is if these people are innocent or the crimes are dismissed, I want to make sure the DNA is deleted from the databases, as it should be, and it's deleted timely," said Grosdidier.

He's also skeptical it might give police an incentive to upgrade charges on a suspect in order to force getting DNA.

Grosdidier said what happens if the DNA samples aren't immediately disposed of and removed from the database if the person is found innocent.

"While during that window the DNA would be available in databases and that creates and incentive for other jurisdiction to look carefully as to whether there's a match and act quickly," said Grosdidier.

He said that time frame between being charged and dismissed could allow a window for other jurisdictions to inquire about DNA before it's deleted from the database.

A fiscal note attached to the bill estimates the additional DNA collection would cost roughly more than $3 million in the first two years and about $1.2 million each year after that.

Currently, 18 states that now require DNA be taken from all felony offenders at the time of their arrest.

Sponsored Content

Sponsored Content