With the purpose of catching rapists and helping to avoid wrongful convictions, a bill to expedite the testing of evidence collected in sexual assault cases moves to the Texas House for consideration after passing the Senate.
Authored by Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth) and three other senators, the bill would require the police to give biological evidence, such as rape kits, to the crime lab within 30 days. Further, the bill requires that the evidence be tested by the crime lab within 90 days of receipt. However, the teeth of the bill’s requirements are dependent upon funding and staffing.
Much of the impetus for the bill was the realization that there are approximately 22,000 evidence samples, dating back to 1996, still awaiting DNA testing – and these samples come from just Dallas, Houston and San Antonio – according to numbers from the Texas Public Safety Department.
The bill calls for the state’s backlogged evidence to be tested by 2014. However, for a state that is facing budget concerns, finding funding to conduct all of the tests could be a difficult task. The Legislative Budget Board estimates that the cost of testing the backlogged evidence is nearly $11 million.
The funding and staffing aspects of the bill seem to make this a bill with little bite. However, for those wrongly accused of a sexual crime, quicker testing would be welcomed.
If you are facing accusations of rape or another sex crime, speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney about your options.