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NJ Wrongful Convictions: DNA Testing to Be Expanded

Posted by David Schwartz on November 17, 2015  |   No Comments »

On November 9, 2015, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed a bill that increases the availability of DNA testing to those claiming wrongful conviction who are on probation or parole, or whose sentences have concluded. The law, which overwhelmingly passed the New Jersey State Senate and Assembly in June 2015, will go into effect in March 2016.

The legislation ends the requirement that an individual be jailed in order to seek the benefit of DNA testing at the state’s expense.

Until this bill was signed, individuals on probation or parole had no access to testing that might clear their names. According to the legislation’s chief sponsor in the New Jersey State Assembly, Assemblyman Gordon Johnson, “This law opens access to DNA testing to these individuals so they can stop living under the shadow of guilt and finally be free.” The lead Senate sponsor, NJ State Sen. Loretta Weinberg, stated:: “Expanding access to DNA analysis to those who are no longer incarcerated will allow people who have served their time, but who are still living with the nightmare of a wrongful conviction, to prove their innocence,” adding, the law would “assist in identifying the true perpetrators of the crimes for which these individuals were charged.”

Under additional provisions of the law, Superior Court judges who order DNA testing at the request of an imprisoned defendant are authorized to order law enforcement officials to submit crime scene evidence to the federal DNA database to determine if the evidence matches another individual within the database.

To avoid lengthy delays due to a backlog at State Police testing labs, the legislation also permits testing by private DNA laboratories, although the defendant would be required to pay for it.

Finally, the law provides criminal defendants with access to DNA evidence taken from crime scenes and victims.

Of course, the best defense to a wrongful conviction is an experienced criminal defense lawyer. For individuals who are facing state criminal prosecution or sentencing in the criminal courts of New Jersey, or federal criminal prosecution or sentencing in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, or who are appealing their criminal matters before the New Jersey Appellate Division, the Supreme Court of New Jersey, or the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, the experienced criminal defense lawyers of Schwartz & Posnock are here to help. We frequently appear in all State, Municipal, and juvenile criminal courts in New Jersey, as well as the Federal Courts of New Jersey, and have convenient locations in Monmouth County (Eatontown), Essex County (Livingston), Union County (Linden), and Middlesex County (East Brunswick). Call us at 732-544-1460, email us at info@schwartzposnock.com, or visit our webpage at www.schwartzposnock.com to schedule an appointment.

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