CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Saturday, October 30, 2004

First DNA indictment in New York

CNN reports that the first suspect indicted based on a DNA profile has been arrested in New York. I suppose the controversy over indictments based on DNA has to be evaluated in light of the alternative of solving the problem by eliminating statutes of limitation entirely as some states have done for crimes where DNA might prove useful.

An article in the New York Times reports that DNA indictments are not as useful as might have been hoped: Out of 600 rape kits from 1994 tested to beat the deadline yielding "a viable DNA profile, only 34 have resulted in John Doe indictments . . . Fifty percent were not eligible because the victim knew the defendant, a circumstance that shortens the statute of limitations to five years under state law. In 20 percent, the police paperwork was not available (many of the rapes ... took place in housing projects, which were policed by a separate agency until 1995). In another 20 percent, the victims would not cooperate. And in 10 percent, the victim could not be found or had died."

Of course, as DNA testing is performed as part of the initial investigation itself, these problems should diminish.

Jack Chin

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