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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.

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