Colorado House panel OKs bill requiring DNA sample for certain Class 1 offenses

Posted: April 12, 2013 in local news, Police State, Politics
Tags: ,
Posted:   04/11/2013 03:26:08 PM MDT
April 12, 2013 2:19 PM GMTUpdated:   04/12/2013 08:19:55 AM MDT

By Kurtis Lee
The Denver Postdenverpost.com

After hours of testimony, spirited back-and-forths among lawmakers about its premise and the adoption of several amendments, a bill that would require collection of DNA with a misdemeanor conviction passed a House committee Thursday evening.

Under the drastically amended measure, any Class 1 misdemeanor convictions under the criminal code in Colorado would require an individual to submit an oral DNA sample to be stored in a state database.

The bill, which passed with bipartisan support on a 9-2 vote, now moves to the House Finance committee.

“This will help solve crimes and exonerate the innocent,” bill sponsor Rep. Dan Pabon, D-Denver, said before the vote.

Originally, Pabon had wanted those convicted of a Class 1, Class 2 or Class 3 misdemeanor to be required to submit a DNA sample — a move that raised concerns among several lawmakers on the House Judiciary Committee.

Class 1 misdemeanors under the criminal code vary from assault to forgery and trespassing. They also include unlawful recording of a live performance and inciting a riot.

Pabon called this a public-safety issue that will solve cold cases, exonerate those wrongfully convicted and prevent future crimes.

Opponents from the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado and proponents, including law enforcement, victims and district attorneys, gathered in a Capitol conference committee room Thursday to offer testimony.

“Making a faulty policy that presumes that all of these criminal-code crimes are likely to correlate to worse crimes — this seems to be expedient instead of good policy,” said Denise Maes, public policy director at the state ACLU.

In Colorado, those charged with a felony or misdemeanor sexual misconduct must submit a DNA sample. If convicted of a Class 1 misdemeanor under the criminal code, a person would have to pay a $128 fee to cover the costs.

Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett, a supporter of the measure, said the broadness of the bill raises valid concerns.

“But unless the collection is pretty broad, it’s almost meaningless,” he said.

DNA collected from those charged with a felony or some misdemeanors is stored in a secure database, and the actual swab is stored in a secure vault at Colorado Bureau of Investigation headquarters.

Prior to the amendment phase, Rep. Jared Wright, R-Fruita, argued to Pabon that there are 30 pages of Class 1 misdemeanors in Colorado that include relatively minor offenses and that DNA collection is a serious process.

Read more: Colorado House panel OKs bill requiring DNA sample for certain Class 1 offenses – The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_23005906/colorado-bill-require-dna-sample-minor-offenses-draws#ixzz2QGk0ExvI
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