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Archive for the ‘DNA testing’ Category

Proposed Law Regarding Accessibility of DNA Testing

July 21st, 2014 at 7:00 am

DNA testing, criminal charges, DNA evidence, innocent person, criminal justice system, Christopher M. Cosley, legal representationThe Chicago Tribune recently published an article that discussed a proposed law in the state of Illinois that would allow inmates who have previously pled guilty to have access to DNA testing that would prove their innocence.

The Legislation

The proposed law, which many are speculating that Governor Pat Quinn will sign into effect, represents a small but substantial change in the current law regarding DNA testing. The proposal would give inmates new access to DNA testing in order to prove their innocence after they have previously pled guilty to criminal charges. On the national level, exonerations are overall on the decline as inmates’ appeals based on DNA evidence are moving through the court system. Illinois would follow in the footsteps of 44 other states that have allowed inmates who pled guilty to seek DNA testing.

The legislation is meant to recognize the fact that some of the defendants who end up pleading guilty in a criminal case are actually innocent of the charges, and at times take this action just to avoid a harsher penalty than if they took the matter to trial. The law contains a requirement that there be a reasonable probability that a favorable DNA testing result would have led to an acquittal at trial; the inmate must establish this before being granted access to DNA testing.

Supporters of the law say that it is worth implementing even if it leads to just one exoneration of an innocent person being released from prison. This is especially relevant in cases where a confession was never made and there is a lack of physical evidence linking a defendant to a particular crime. In addition, cases based on events that occurred decades ago before DNA testing was widely available may have questions answered and issues resolved that were previously impossible to do. The changes in the law and in the science gives individuals new access to techniques that could produce important exculpatory evidence.

Criminal Defense Attorney

Many believe that the criminal justice system in America was founded on the proposition that it is better to let guilty men go free than imprison even a single innocent man for a crime he did not commit. This new proposed law would not only be pivotal and potentially life changing for some prisoners, but seems to echo the same beliefs that shaped our criminal justice system.

It is important for anyone who has been charged with a crime to contact an experienced Chicago criminal attorney. If you or someone you know is facing criminal charges, contact The Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley today to schedule a consultation to discuss your case and obtain legal representation in order to protect your rights. We serve clients in Cook County, DuPage County, and the greater surrounding area.

Backlog of Rape Kit Testing is a Problem Nationwide

February 7th, 2014 at 12:11 pm

Rape Kit Testing IMAGEThe Chicago Tribune recently reported on a story covering the delay in processing and sometimes complete failure of rape kits to be tested by law enforcement and lab workers across the country. The fear of many is that as a result of this failure, victims would not get justice and their attackers would remain free to rape them and potential other victims, as long as they were not in prison. As a result, many concerned citizens are forming organizations and getting involved in groups aimed at eliminating the backlog and coming up with alternative ways of testing rape kits and tracking them.

 Many advocates of the victims allege that the backlog in testing is attributed to the low priority that many sexual assault victims are given by law enforcement. Illinois was the first of four states to mandate the testing of rape kits, which it implemented in 2010. Now, the almost 4,100 kits that were untested at the time have been processed, some decades old. The completed kits were sent back to the appropriate local police departments for further action. The results made 927 matches in the national DNA database, giving law enforcement promising leads.

That law in Illinois gives police 10 business days to transfer completed rape kits to the state crime labs. The labs, in turn, have six months to process the kits. While the law is considered to be a step in the right direction, the conditions under which it must be followed are flexible: police compliance is voluntary and the time limit only applies to labs if they have enough staff and resources for administering the testing. State officials are monitoring the law and looking into how the process can be improved.

In the meantime, backlog problems will likely still exist because of cost, lab staffing, and tracking issues. This means some offenders may never be prosecuted, either because the kits were not tested or the relevant statute of limitations had expired by the time they were. The article reports a statistic echoing this fact. The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network says that 97 percent of rapists are never incarcerated, due in large part to victims’ failure to report. They estimate that 40 of every 100 sexual assaults are reported to police.

Sexual assault crimes, including rape, are serious offenses that usually involve complicated legal issues that arise within the context of a criminal case. An experienced criminal defense attorney can protect your rights. Contact us today for a consultation.

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