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DNA Testing in Arizona Criminal Cases

If you’re a fan of crime shows, you’ve probably heard about an incredible and extremely valuable law enforcement tool: DNA testing. In the past 10 years, forensic science has improved dramatically and DNA or genetic testing has become one of the most effective ways to identify and rule out suspects with incredible accuracy.

“News stories extolling the successful use of DNA to solve crimes abound. For example, in 1999, New York authorities linked a man through DNA evidence to at least 22 sexual assaults and robberies that had terrorized the city,” according to the United States Department of Justice (DOJ).

How DNA Solves Crimes

“How does DNA evidence solve crimes exactly?” It basically solves crimes in two ways. If a suspect has been identified, DNA or biological evidence can be collected at the crime scene or on the victim’s body and compared to the suspect’s DNA.

In cases where there is no suspect, biological evidence can be collected at the crime scene and compared to state and national DNA databases. Also, if someone is arrested for a crime and their DNA is collected and entered into a DNA database, at a future date, that DNA can be compared to cold cases as well as evidence collected at future crime scenes.

Arizona’s Law on DNA Testing

What does Arizona law say about DNA testing? Under ARS Section 13-610, anyone who is arrested for the following offenses must provide a sample of their DNA:

Under Arizona law, anyone arrested for the above offenses must provide a DNA sample to the authorities. The DNA sample will be collected during the booking process and the suspect can request to have the DNA expunged upon request. Sample collection does apply to juvenile offenders; however, it is collected when the juvenile is charged.

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“Can someone ask the state to test their DNA after they have been convicted; for example, when the person swears they are innocent?” Yes, the state does allow people to apply for DNA testing after they have been convicted. The individual must convince the court that they could be innocent for the court to allow the test to be performed.