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Will Colorado Violate Suspects’ Privacy in Sexual Assault Cases?

On Behalf of | Oct 6, 2010 | Sexual Assault |

Your rights to privacy today are more intact in the state of Colorado than they will probably be tomorrow. A change in law will take effect that is meant to catch violent criminals and sexual assault offenders. If arrested on suspicion of committing a felony, officers will not only have the right to take your fingerprints, but they can swab your cheek for DNA and store the information in a database if you are formally charged.

According to sources, the change is the result of a passed 2009 bill called “Katie’s Law.” The case involved the sexual assault and murder of a young woman. Authorities caught the man responsible for the crimes only because he was convicted of separate charges sometime later. Until tomorrow, officials have been able to only take DNA samples of suspects if they were convicted of a felony.

Based on cases such as that which inspired “Katie’s Law,” Denver’s District Attorney persuaded the state to adopt the law in Colorado. He believes that many who have committed unsolved violent offenses and sex crimes will be caught and prevented from reoffending once authorities are allowed to collect DNA samples sooner – when someone is merely charged with a felony rather than convicted of the charge.

But not everyone is happy with the changes that “Katie’s Law” will put into action. The American Civil Liberties Union believes that the early collection of DNA violates suspects’ privacy and their constitutional rights to protection from unreasonable searches.  Others are opposed to the idea that someone could be arrested on one charge but then charged with something else if the DNA connects them to a separate, unrelated case.

As mentioned earlier, if the state sticks to its plan, “Katie’s Law” will be in effect by tomorrow. Colorado will be the 25th state to enact the changed DNA law.

TheDenverChannel.com: Does New DNA Law Violate Privacy?; Marshall Zelinger, 10/1/2010