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Post Conviction DNA Testing in Oklahoma

By May 26, 2017April 5th, 2024No Comments

Have you or someone you love been convicted of a crime you didn’t commit? There’s a law in Oklahoma that could help you prove your case.

Oklahoma is the last state in the nation to implement a post-conviction DNA testing statute. It allows new and previously undiscovered DNA evidence to be used to vacate your conviction if the DNA test proves that you were innocent of the crime.

How has post conviction DNA testing helped people who were wrongfully convicted?

DNA first entered the world of forensic evidence in 1989:

  • Since then, more than 300 people have been exonerated for crimes they never committed.
  • Of those, 10 were in Oklahoma.
  • Of those 10 cases, in six of them, the DNA evidence that led to the freeing of the person who was wrongfully convicted also led to the people who actually committed the crimes.

Although Oklahoma was the last state to implement post-conviction DNA testing, the state statute is regarded as one of the “most comprehensive” in the United States. That’s because the law does the following:

  • Allows DNA testing in cases involving violent felonies
  • Allows DNA testing in cases that ended with a prison sentence of 25 or more years – but only if that DNA testing could prove his or her innocence.

In other states, DNA testing laws are more limited, but Oklahoma’s law does have provisions that are designed to avoid what some would describe as frivolous post-conviction DNA tests.

Some people who are opposed to post-conviction DNA testing laws argue that too much access to this type of testing only encourages criminals to stall their convictions and appeals processes with frivolous requests for testing.

What are the common shortfalls of post-conviction DNA laws?

The Innocence Project, a nonprofit organization that largely works with DNA evidence to help exonerate innocent people, says that although all 50 states have some type of post-conviction DNA testing law in place, many of these laws have several shortcomings.

These flaws include:

  • Placing too much of the burden on the wrongfully convicted person and creating “insurmountable hurdles” to proving one’s innocence
  • Some of the laws don’t allow prisoners access to DNA testing if he or she pleaded guilty to the crime or confessed to the crime. That’s a problem for many, because about 30 percent of people exonerated gave a false confession or entered a guilty plea.
  • Some laws don’t allow people who are no longer in prison to request DNA testing.
  • Some laws don’t have the proper protections to preserve DNA evidence.

Have you or someone you love been convicted or accused of a crime you didn’t commit? Contact the law office of Jacqui Ford today for help.