Legislation reauthorizing DNA sample collection for crimes newly downgraded to misdemeanors sailed the the California Assembly on Tuesday.
Soon after voters reduced multiple drug and property crimes to misdemeanors by passing Proposition 47, law enforcement groups have pushed bills to blunt some of the law’s effects. One such effect was that it disallowed the DNA collection in cases that were previously charged as felonies. Law enforcement critics warned that would make it harder to solve crimes.
Assembly Bill 390 requires peace officers to collect DNA from people who are convicted of certain misdemeanors and also have past convictions for violent misdemeanor offenses. Carried by Assemblyman Jim Cooper, D-Elk Grove, a former captain in the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department, the bill passed 64-2.
“The muted voice of victims rarely gets heard, and this is a chance that we can champion them,” said Assemblyman Tom Lackey, R-Palmdale, noting that “this is such an important bill because it also exonerates the innocent.”
Two other bills that responded to Proposition 47 by imposing tougher penalties, one for stealing a gun and the other for possessing a date rape drug with intent to use it, stumbled in committee last week.