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Can the police force you to give up your DNA when you’re facing sex offense charges?

| Dec 24, 2020 | Sexual assault |

Once upon a time, charges for sexual offenses often rested solely on the word of the victim. Absent witnesses or obvious injuries, there often wasn’t any real evidence of a crime.

DNA evidence has changed that. DNA molecules contain unique genetic fingerprints for each person, and it’s increasingly common for such evidence to be presented in court.

How can the police get your DNA?

DNA can be found in skin cells, bodily fluids, hair and all other parts of someone’s body. Because skin cells and hairs are constantly shed as you live your life, the police can (theoretically) obtain your DNA from anything you touch.

In practice, this sometimes means that DNA is lifted from a suspect’s coffee cup, cigarette butt or off items found in the suspect’s trash. Police may conduct surveillance and gather such evidence on the sly before they even file charges.

In most states (including Michigan), DNA evidence is also collected from people who have any kind of convictions for sex offenses, even misdemeanors. That information is usually loaded into a database that the police can access for comparison when they have a new case.

In Michigan, however, the police have another tool at their disposal: Anybody arrested for a felony offense is automatically required to surrender their DNA to the police upon demand — even without a conviction.

What should you do if you’re arrested for a sexual offense?

You should contact an aggressive defense attorney to protect your rights as fast as possible. DNA evidence can cut both ways — it may clear you of charges, or it could lead to a conviction. No matter what the circumstances, an attorney can help you mitigate the consequences to your future.