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Some cases in O.C. could be dropped if offenders give a sample of their DNA -- and pay a $75 fee

September 15, 2009 |  5:58 pm

People arrested for nonviolent misdemeanor crimes in Orange County can now opt to give a sample of their DNA, along with a $75 processing fee, to the district attorney in exchange for their charges being dropped.

The Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the resolution at Tuesday’s meeting; Supervisor Janet Nguyen was not present.

In the past, people pleading guilty were asked to give a sample of their DNA. Extending the option to those not pleading guilty will allow the district attorney’s office to offset the costs of processing the DNA during a tough budget year, said Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas.

People would be given the option to have their cases treated “informally” if they donated their DNA, he said, and they might be given the option of giving the sample along with attending classes and paying restitution so that charges are not filed.

“There’d be no necessity for a guilty plea, and a dismissal, or anything like that,” Rackauckas said. “It’s advantageous to the defense, and it’s advantageous to us, because we’re able to handle more cases with fewer resources.”

Adding the DNA sample to the growing local database could also act as a deterrent for potential criminals and a useful investigative tool for law enforcement, Rackauckas said.

But board watchdog Darrell Nolta spoke against the resolution. He questioned the voluntary nature of the samples and the lack of oversight on the DNA database.

“Mr. Rackauckas is going to have his own private proprietary database of these samples, with no effective oversight,” Nolta said. “God forbid what he’s ultimately going to do, and what his replacement will do with that DNA.”

-- Tami Abdollah, in Orange County