D.A. Trades Prosecution for Money and DNA

DNA Crime Investigations

District Attorneys have almost unfettered discretion in whether or not to prosecute many cases. If they do prosecute, that discretion includes what specific charges are filed, and whether plea bargaining will be an acceptable process. Some view this discretion as evidence that the hand of justice is far from even – it depends what county a person is in when the alleged offense occurs, what the DA decides, what the overall workload in the DA’s office is at the time, and other variables.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the Orange County District Attorney sought approval this week from the Board of Supervisors to charge a $75 fee and this request resulted in the disclosure of a practice by the DA to drop charges against some accused if they will agree to provide a DNA sample and pay the fee. According to the Times article this news has raised eyebrows among people who follow public policy, legal scholars and others.

Apparently the Board of Supervisors approved this new fee without challenging the DA about the process. However, the article reports that some police agencies in Orange County are concerned that their efforts to catch bad guys will not result in adequate punishment of offenders because they agree to this deal. Other local police agencies are apparently o.k. with this policy, saying it helps build the local data base that is useful in overall crime fighting (the existence of such a local data base itself is a bit chilling to many civil libertarians).

If a person can trade his or her DNA to escape prosecution, what else might be traded in the future? Endorsements or monetary contributions to political campaigns perhaps? Wonder if DA wanna-be Todd Spitzer has an opinion on this one. How about you?


About Over But Not Out

A retired Orange County employee, and moderate Republican. The editor seriously does not know OBNO's identity as did not the former editor, but his point of view is obviously interesting and valued.