DNA evidence in death cases will be properly preserved and cataloged under legislation co-sponsored by State Senator Karen McConnaughay (R-St. Charles) and signed into law Aug. 13 by Gov. Bruce Rauner.
House Bill 233 requires county coroners to properly preserve evidence in a death investigation, if the appropriate equipment is available, and release it to the investigating agency no later than 30 days after it is collected. The investigating agency is then required to submit the specimens to a National DNA Index System (NDIS) participating laboratory within Illinois.
“This legislation ensures that vital evidence in death cases is preserved and cataloged,” said McConnaughay. “By clarifying who is responsible for submitting this evidence to NDIS, we make it easier to coordinate investigations involving DNA evidence not only in Illinois, but nationally.”
Current law puts the burden of submitting DNA evidence in death cases to an NDIS participating laboratory, like the Illinois State Police’s lab, on the coroner or medical examiner. Since that law took effect it has caused confusion and, in some cases, unintentional non-compliance among coroners and medical examiners. This law streamlines the process, guaranteeing that vital evidence is properly cataloged and preserved.
NDIS contains DNA profiles submitted by federal, state, and local participating forensic laboratories that fall in to various categories of data. These categories include DNA information about convicted offenders, arrestees, forensic casework, unidentified human remains, missing persons, and relatives of missing persons.
Passed by both chambers of the General Assembly unanimously, House Bill 233 will take effect on Jan. 1, 2016.