CARSON CITY — The Assembly Judiciary Committee today voted to advance Senate Bill 243 — the bill that would require everyone arrested for a felony to submit a DNA sample. The bill now goes to the Assembly floor.
A similar bill was rejected during the 2011 session, despite compelling testimony from the family of Brianna Denison, a college student who was abducted and murdered in Reno in 2008. James Michael Biela was convicted of the crime and sentenced to death. Supporters of the law say Denison might have been spared had it been in effect in 2008, since Biela had a prior felony arrest and had allegedly raped two other women prior to Denison’s murder.
Critics of the bill contend it’s a violation of the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches and seizures, because DNA would be taken from people arrested for, but not convicted of, a felony crime. Two lawmakers — Assemblymen Richard Carrillo and James Ohrenschall, both D-Las Vegas voted no, citing those concerns.
But Assemblyman Wes Duncan, R-Las Vegas, said the federal government and other states take DNA from people arrested prior to conviction. And other lawmakers dismissed Fourth Amendment concerns. “I think the felony [arrest] standard is reasonable,” said Assemblyman Ira Hansen, R-Sparks.