DNA tests for people convicted of misdemeanors could be allowed under Colorado bill

DNA would be compared in criminal database

DENVER - A state representative took his own DNA sample at a news conference Tuesday announcing a proposal that would require people convicted of misdemeanors to submit samples for a database.

"DNA is a tool that works and expanding will make this a safer place for all Coloradoans," said Rep. Dan Pabon.

A coalition of district attorneys said they support Rep. Pabon's bill.

"Criminals do not follow a neat pattern of only committing one type of offense," said Dawn Weber, Chief Deputy District Attorney in Denver, "We don't see that they only commit a felony or type of felony, so passage of legislation that relates to collection for a misdemeanor conviction does have the capacity to catch and identify these very serious criminals."

If it becomes law, DNA collected after a misdemeanor conviction would be entered into a database where it would be compared with DNA found at a crime scene. Colorado began collecting DNA from accused felons in 2010 under the so-called Katie's Law.

That law is credited with solving cold cases and stopping repeat offenders.

Denise Maes, director of public policy for the Colorado ACLU, agreed DNA can be a good crime fighting tool, but said it comes with serious civil liberty issues.

"It's far more invasive than [fingerpringting]," she said. "Fingerprinting tells you the identity of an individual, DNA will tell you who your family is and what your medical history is. That's now going to be in large database."

The ACLU also opposed Katie's Law.

"You only have to worry about this law if you've done one of two things, you've been found by a jury of your peers that you've committed a crime or you've knowingly and full knowledge have plead guilty to a misdemeanor," Pabon said.

Colorado District Attorneys Council executive director Tom Raynes says the bill would include safeguards to protect civil liberties.

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