Post-Conviction DNA Testing
Monday, 6 March 2017
by Staff, Spaulding Law
SB0076 amends the current law to provide that the new DNA evidence only has to establish, by a reasonable probability, that the individual would not have been convicted, or would have received a lesser sentence, rather than requiring that the evidence will establish factual innocence. Under the current law, a convicted individual can send a petition to the court to request DNA testing. The Utah attorney general then has an opportunity to respond to the petition before the court makes a determination. This proposed bill would give the convicted individual an additional opportunity to reply to the Utah attorney general's response before the court makes a determination regarding allowing the testing.
The hope with this bill is to make these tests more accessible and help those wrongly convicted. The bill has a fiscal note of $40,000, but it is argued that this cost has the ability to save the state of Utah much more. In the case of Making a Murderer, Steven Avery sued Manitowoc County for $36 million for his wrongful conviction. Ultimately, Steven Avery settled for far less largely due to several unique circumstances. Utah, along with approximately 28 other states have compensation laws for the wrongfully convicted. In Utah, the compensation is currently $40,000 for each year of incarceration with a maximum of 15 years.
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