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Published on Friday, January 24, 2014

DNA evidence could not be destroyed for two years under new legislation

HB 2468, introduced by Rep. Orwall (D-Des Moines) would prohibit biological evidence related to felony crimes from being destroyed for two years. Biological evidence is defined as anything that could contain human DNA. Currently, when a case is adjudicated, evidence from that case can be destroyed. There is no policy on retention of these pieces of evidence. Some pieces are destroyed right away and others remain for years in the evidence lockers of our local agencies. Some groups are concerned that DNA evidence that is being destroyed could either exonerate the person convicted or implicate someone else in the crime and want to establish a uniform system for retention.

The bill also establishes a work group to make recommendations for statewide standards for preserving biological material. Again, this is for felony cases only. The work group includes legislators and representatives from law enforcement, prosecution, defense attorneys and local government.

HB 2468 is scheduled for public hearing January 31 at 8am in the House Public Safety Committee.

AWC agrees that there needs to be uniformity but shares liability and implementation concerns with prosecutors and law enforcement representatives.

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