Bill to Expand DNA Collection Passes House
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - A bill to expand DNA collection throughout the state took a step forward Tuesday. House Bill 13-1251, which passed the House on a 43-21 vote, would make it legal for authorities to collect DNA from those convicted of Class 1 misdemeanors. In 2010, a Colorado version of Katie's Law made it a requirement for not just those convicted of, but anyone arrested on a felony charge to give a DNA sample. "The more DNA profiles that are in the database, the better it is; the better our chance of prosecuting violent criminals," said Mesa County District Attorney Pete Hautzinger. He also noted statistics that show people who commit petty crimes or misdemeanors are much more likely to commit more serious crimes than those who don't. Class 1 misdemeanors include things like assault or theft, but also encompass tax fraud and giving alcohol to minors. Opponents feel the measure infringes on defendants' rights. "It's another small invasion into our privacy, for what could be a minor offense," explained Steve Laiche, a local attorney. On the other hand, "it can be just as helpful to a criminal suspect as it can be to the prosecution," said Mike Holmes, another Grand Junction attorney. "Take an unsolved rape case," added Hautzinger. "Somebody could be falsely accused of it and if their profile is in the database and it doesn't match, they're automatically exonerated." There's also a question of cost. "You're going to have to take a swab from someone. Then, you're going to have to analyze it. Then, you're going to have to store it. Who's going to pay for all that?" asked Laiche. "I would assume, they'll defray the cost in part by dinging the person that they took the evidence from," said Holmes. The bill would allocate at total of $585,767 from the state's general fund, or less if needed. It must next be approved in the senate before it heads to Gov. John Hickenlooper's desk.