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Wisconsin defense attorney, Wisconsin criminal lawyerMost Americans are aware of the mandated sex offender registry for convicted sex offenders. Used in all 50 states, it is accessible by the public and provides names, descriptions, and photographs of those that have served their time and then been released back into society. However, few are aware that there are many other types of criminal registries that, depending on state and circumstance, may also be viewable by the public. The most recently opened is a white collar crime registry in Utah.

The Rise of Offender Registries

Over the last several years, registries for convicted offenders of various crimes have grown exponentially. Five states monitor those convicted of arson. Seven have registries for methamphetamine producers, and Indiana offers a public website that lets visitors use Google Maps to find the location of homes that have been used as meth labs. In Tennessee, those convicted of animal abuse must register. And in the state of Florida, anyone convicted of a felony of any kind must register for up to five years after completing their sentence. Some of these registries are restricted to law enforcement or fire official use, but others are searchable to the public, just like the sex offender registries.

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Wisconsin defense attorney, Wisconsin criminal lawyer, defendant rightsWhen charged with a violent crime in Wisconsin, defendants must submit to a sample of their DNA to be collected, stored, and cataloged in a state database. Those records stay there, even if the individual’s charges are ultimately dismissed by a judge.  This has some lawmakers concerned about the privacy rights of non-convicted individuals. A bill, set to be presented to the Senate in 2016, is an attempt to remedy the issue.

History of the DNA Database

In 2013  Governor Scott Walker and the state’s Attorney General introduced the idea of a state database containing DNA evidence of those arrested for violent felony offenses.. Representative Dean Knudson and other lawmakers raised concerns over the privacy rights of those that were ultimately vindicated from criminal charges, but nothing was done about these concerns at that time.

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Wisconsin criminal defense attorney, Wisconsin defense lawyer, your rightsThe advent of DNA evidence has allowed police to solve crimes more easily and with greater certainty than before. Now, new DNA evidence collection requirements are pushing the state to expand its workforce to keep up with the increasing flow of samples that will soon come through state labs. These new requirements may keep Wisconsin citizens safer, but some members of the public are also concerned about privacy rights. In some circumstances, the new collection requirements come into effect before a person is convicted, so the state may end up logging DNA from innocent people.

New Collection Requirements

The new collection requirements for Wisconsin police departments become active on April 1st of next year, and they greatly expand the amount of DNA that the state is required to collect. As it stands, Wisconsin only collects DNA from people who have been convicted, and even then, only people whose convictions were for felonies or sex-related misdemeanors. These new requirements instruct the police to take samples from a broader set of people.

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