Local News

Authorities to begin gathering DNA upon arrest

Posted January 31, 2011 1:13 p.m. EST
Updated January 31, 2011 1:21 p.m. EST

— Law enforcement offices across North Carolina on Tuesday will begin gathering DNA samples from people charged with specific violent felonies and misdemeanors.

Previously, only people convicted of felonies were required to provide a DNA sample, which authorities then placed in a state database for comparing with evidence from unsolved crimes. State lawmakers last year expanded the database to allow samples to be taken from some people upon arrest.

“DNA is rock-solid evidence that the forensic lab uses daily to pinpoint suspects and clear the wrongly accused,” Attorney General Roy Cooper, who lobbied for the expanded database, said in a statement. “Taking DNA samples from arrestees will help prevent crimes, clear unsolved cases, and bring justice to victims.”

The state database, which is linked to a national database managed by the FBI, contains more than 200,000 profiles and has helped solve more than 1,900 cases since its inception, officials said. The State Bureau of Investigation had more hits to the database in 2010 than in the first 10 years of the DNA program combined.

Cooper predicted that including DNA from those arrested would help solve even more murders, rapes and other crimes, up to 100 cold cases the first year.

Forensic scientists from the state crime lab have conducted 15 training sessions across the state through the North Carolina Justice Academy to help law enforcement agencies prepare to implement the new law.

If charges are dropped or a defendant is acquitted, he or she can ask that a DNA sample be removed from the database.