DNA Samples in Orange County
There was an article in the Los Angeles Times today concerning the controversy surrounding the Orange County District Attorney's Office policy of offering to dismiss criminal charges in minor misdemeanor cases in return for a defendant submitting to a DNA sample. The policy is intended to gather as many DNA samples from defendants as possible to deter serious crime and to aid in solving serious crimes.
Detractors tend to come from two camps; law enforcement and civil rights advocates. Law enforcement officers in Orange County are voicing concern over the dismissal of criminal charges where there is strong evidence of guilt. Civil rights advocates are concerned about the District Attorney making important decisions on who should submit to a DNA test in circumstances where guilt has not been determined. The concern is that innocent people will be put under pressure to give a DNA sample to guarantee a dismissal.
In my experience, the policy is providing a useful negotiating tactic for clients charged with DUI in Orange County. Although it is rare for deputy DA's to agree to dismiss a DUI in return for a DNA sample, it is common for penalties in Orange County DUI cases to be reduced in return for a sample. Recently, a client of mine agreed to a DNA sample in return for a nine month alcohol program in a high BAC case, being reduced to a three month program. The process of providing a sample took about fifteen minutes and involved providing a sample of saliva using a mouth swab. There is a charge of $75 for the sample.