2018 Bills

SB 33: Allowing for Post-Conviction DNA Testing

This bill passed the Senate and the House unanimously.

Libertas Institute supports this bill

Staff review of this legislation finds that it is aligned with our principles and merits support.

In some criminal cases, DNA samples are taken but never tested or brought up as evidence in court. After a guilty conviction, sometimes years later, groups like Innocence Project may become involved and finally get DNA samples tested. This sometimes results in new information pointing to the opposite of what the court or jury found.

DNA exonerations have helped free hundreds of innocent people who have been wrongfully convicted of crimes they did not commit. Under current law in Utah, it is against the law to test a DNA sample if it was available at the time of trial but the defendant did not request it be tested. In these cases, it is extremely difficult to exonerate a wrongfully convicted individual.

To solve this issue, Senator Lyle Hillyard has proposed Senate Bill 33. SB 33 would eliminate the ban on DNA ordering after a trial and allow for samples to be ordered and tested even if this evidence was available during the time of the trial. This could lead to the overturn of wrongful prison sentences and exoneration of those who have unjustly been the victim of a state error.