Ever get caught driving aggressively? Or get in trouble for writing one too many bad checks? If so, you might be required to provide a DNA sample for a database used by law enforcement to solve crimes.
A proposal moving through the Legislature would broaden an existing law that requires people to submit their DNA only if they were convicted of certain serious felonies, sex crimes and offenses involving deadly weapons or dangerous instruments.
But state lawmakers took the first steps Monday toward building up a database of the DNA of anyone arrested for anything at all.
The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 5-1 to require anyone taken to a police station or jail to submit to DNA testing. Sen. Chuck Gray, R-Mesa, said the goal behind SB1267 is to provide the largest number of samples possible for police to review when trying to solve crimes.
The change would result in testing an additional 75,000 people each year, according to information prepared by Senate staff members.
Gray said such a database would lead police to crime suspects sooner. He specifically mentioned the case of the Baseline Killer, in which a man was arrested and charged in nine deaths and multiple assaults.
“You can go out and find that person and stake him out, rather than stake out all the possible hotels or motels where this guy might attack again,” he said. “It’s a great crime tool when used properly.”
Gray, a former police officer, said DNA samples are similar to fingerprints, which already are collected routinely by police.
But several people expressed concern about such broad testing of people who ultimately may never be convicted.
John Wertling, a lobbyist for the Arizona Citizens Defense League, said he was worried that a person charged with something as minor as a health code violation could wind up in the state database.
“There are issues of privacy,” he said.
Gray said only those charged with criminal offenses and taken into custody would have to offer up samples.
He said those cited for minor crimes and given citations to appear at a future date would be unaffected.
Sen. Karen Johnson, R-Mesa, said that still leaves the question of the DNA profiles that are collected from people who are not convicted.
There is a provision in current law that allows someone whose DNA was
taken but ultimately is acquitted to petition a court to have the information thrown out.
But that doesn’t happen automatically.