Calif. DA Dismisses Misdemeanor and Drug Charges in Exchange for DNA
Posted Apr 15, 2009 8:52 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss
A district attorney in Orange County, Calif., is agreeing to dismiss some misdemeanor and drug charges against defendants if they provide a DNA sample.
Courtroom observers have dubbed the program "spit and acquit," the Daily Journal reports (sub. req.). Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas is using the program to beef up the office’s own DNA database, maintained since 2006, the story says.
Judges and defense lawyers told the Daily Journal the program began last year with misdemeanor dismissals but expanded this year to include drug felonies. Those whose charges are dismissed don’t have to participate in treatment or education programs that are required under court supervision laws applying to hard drugs such as cocaine and heroine.
The DA’s office says in a memo that the program is legal and allows prosecutors to focus on more serious cases. But some judges and defense lawyers question whether it is a good idea to free drug suspects without requiring treatment, the story says.