Friday, May 24, 2013

Post conviction DNA Act signed into law


Governor Fallin signed House Bill 1068, “Postconviction DNA Act” into law today. This new law states that a person convicted of a violent felony crime or who has received a sentence of twenty-five years or more and who asserts that he or she did not commit such crime may file a motion in the sentencing court requesting forensic DNA testing of any biological material secured in the investigation or prosecution attendant to the challenged conviction.

People that are currently incarcerated, on parole, on sex offender registration or discharges case can petition the court to have their evidence re-examined. The court may grant the request if it is not found that the request is a delay tactic and there are better methods of testing that when the case was originally tried. That is, request for DNA testing is made to demonstrate the innocence of the convicted person and is not made to unreasonably delay the execution of the sentence or the administration of justice.

If the court finds that a third party laboratory must conduct the testing due to the inability for the OSBI to do it, then the court shall require the petitioner to pay for the testing.

According to the OSBI, it will cost approximately $1,000 per case for the post-conviction DNA testing. The fiscal impact to the OSBI would be dependent upon the number of cases where the sentencing court orders post-conviction DNA testing.

According to the Administrative Director of the Courts, if the costs will be paid from local court funds, it will adversely affect the funds paid into the State Judicial Revolving Fund and require the Legislature to appropriate additional General Revenue to support the courts. Although it is unknown how many convicted persons will request post conviction DNA testing, and/or appointed counsel, the Court Administrator expects the cost per case to be substantial. The fiscal impact to the courts would be dependent upon the number of cases where the court appoints counsel for petitioners.

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