In Orange County, California, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office has implemented a DNA collection program as part of its plea bargaining process.For minor misdemeanor cases, an attorney can negotiate for a “voluntary” donation of DNA in exchange for a lower charge or in some cases a dismissal.However, the Orange County District Attorneys Office require a DNA sample to be given if a plea bargain is entered.For felony cases, DNA collection may be mandatory at the time of sentencing.The DNA is then stored in a local Orange County DNA database.
Most people voluntarily donate their DNA to this program because they are unaware of how exactly the DNA can be used by law enforcement.
As the Orange County DNA database has grown in size,
a search method known as familial or kinship matching has also become more prevalent.Familial searches use DNA databases to locate possible relatives of the source of a crime-scene sample in cases in which an exact match has not been found.Because this method targets suspicion on innocent persons as a result of their genetic relationship to an individual in a DNA database, it raises an array of serious constitutional concerns.
Therefore, prior to “donating” DNA to the Orange County Crime Lab, citizens are entitled to discuss their rights and options with an Orange County Criminal Defense Lawyer.
Scott Hughes is a criminal defense lawyer in Newport Beach, California practicing in State and Federal Court.