VA bill would allow police use of improper DNA samples

State lab refused to turn over DNA that should have been deleted from database. New bill allows its use if collected in good faith.

A Virginia state senate committee unanimously approved a bill that would allow DNA evidence improperly gathered to be given to police, as long as it was obtained in good faith, The Richmond Times Dispatch reports. The measure has already passed the state House.

The measure came up as a police caption discovered that the state's DNA databank, considered one of the nation's best, included some DNA samples that shouldn't have been there. Under Virginia law, suspects arrested for felonies are DNA-sampled but if they are not convicted, their samples are to be purged from the database.

In two murder cases, the state crime lab declined to pass the DNA along to police based on current law. The new law would allow the lab to report its findings to the police, as long as the DNA was gathered in "good faith." A court would then decide if the evidence were admissible.

The Supreme Court has previously ruled that when police gather evidence improperly but in "good faith," the evidence may be admitted, an exception to the Exclusionary Rule that the "fruits" of improper searches and seizures may not be admitted as evidence against the accused.