Charging DNA

Esther - posted on 02/18/2010 ( 10 moms have responded )

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In their effort to beat the statutes of limitations that prevent people from being charged with a crime after a certain amount of time has passed, prosecutors in some parts of the US are trying a new tactic: They're charging half-eaten food, saliva-crusted glasses or other inanimate objects with the crime.

That's because prosecutors now have DNA evidence as a way to get around statutes of limitations. One way to make sure a criminal doesn't get away by hiding long enough is to simply charge the DNA itself, and wait until the DNA is matched to an actual person.

Laura Bauer of the Kansas City Star reported Monday that prosecutors "in a few pockets of the country" have begun issuing "John Doe" arrest warrants that identify only a person's unique DNA signature. Once the arrest warrant on the DNA is in place, the statute of limitations on the applicable crime will no longer run out.

What do you all think of this? On the one hand of course nobody wants anybody to get away with a crime. On the other hand, statutes of limitation are in place for a reason. If the limitation is unreasonable than that should be addressed, but I'm not sure this is the way to do it.

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Nicole - posted on 02/20/2010

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Esther, you're correct, if it's not heinous in nature then what would be the point, except to win cases. If it was heinous in nature, I would support doing something like that because then I would feel it was worth it to keep the general public safe. But, if they are using this tactic to charge someone shoplifting a carton of cigarettes from the corner store, then please stop back-logging the DNA that is needed to arrest, prosecute and imprison those crimes that risks the general public's safety!

Esther - posted on 02/20/2010

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According to Wikepedia:

Heinous crimes
Crimes that are considered exceptionally heinous by society have no statute of limitations. As a rule, murder has no statute of limitations. Rape, especially sexual abuse of minors, will often fall under this category as well as certain instances of arson and robbery. In many jurisdictions, crimes involving child pornography (especially of young children) and certain violent crimes involving drugs or drug dealing may also have no statute of limitations.

This implies that the cases for which these DAs are using the tactic of charging DNA are not "heinous" (admittedly a subjective term), and likely do not involve murder or rape. So, with that in mind, do you all still think this is an acceptable tactic? I still feel like they are gaming the system. With the best of intentions I'm sure, but this feels a little like vigilante justice. They personally disagree with these statutes, so they find a loophole around it. I'm also curious if this will actually hold up in front of a judge.

Nicole - posted on 02/20/2010

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Thanks Michelle. I wasn't sure. There should be no statute of limitation on murder in every state, in my opinion.

Nicole - posted on 02/19/2010

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Yeah what Cathy S said! Exactly! That's what I meant to say in my post. lol We so agree.

I am pretty sure that in the states there is no statute of limitations on murder. If DNA is left at a murder, I thought, it could be used to prosecute at any point in time. I could be wrong. Maybe it's a state to state thing???

Esther - posted on 02/18/2010

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The article (as far as I read it) didn't specify what types of cases this strategy was used for. It could be rape, or murder but could also be burglary. Either way, I feel that the right way to handle this would be to get the statutes of limitation changed if those are unreasonable. But this feels like gaming the system a little.

Nicole - posted on 02/18/2010

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Well, see this is a reason why things like rape should have a longer statute of limitation. I like the charge for the DNA (in cases for rape) because if a woman is attacked and goes through the process of reporting it and DNA is found, she deserves to have her day in court. We all know the process she has to go through to report it right??? But, since prosecutors have to do this shows that maybe the statutes need to be revised or at least reviewed.

Rosie - posted on 02/18/2010

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i've heard about it and i love it! but i honestly don't know why the just don't change the statute of limitations on rape anyway in cases that involve dna. i could just imagine my sisters face when they tell her they've caught her rapist, but he's not going to get punished because it's been over 7 years. (i think that's what the limit is in my state,not too sure). i'd be completely pissed, and freaked out knowing the name of the guy and knowing he is out there still waiting to do it again.

Michelle - posted on 02/18/2010

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Hm. This is interesting, I hadn't heard about this at all.



Frankly, it sounds bogus to me. I can see how twisting it to say that you're charging the DNA "works," but it really doesn't at all.



Also, I know that many cops firmly believe that a criminal is a criminal forever, so there is no need to do this, they will just reoffend and you can solve your unsolved case that way. And many cops feel that the statute of limitations is a good thing. IF it was something that had a statute, and the offender did not reoffend in that time period, then perhaps it was a wrong-place-wrong-time thing. That's the whole point of the statutes.



Honestly, for me it would depend on the type of crime we're talking about here. Anyone know? Because if we're talking about rapists and murderers, that's one thing. But if we're also talking about burglars and vandals, I don't know about that. That's taking it too far.

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