Backlog of DNA tests in L.A. sexual assault investigations is worse than initially revealed

A few months ago, I posted on the backlog of DNA testing by the L.A. County Sherriff’s office- and how these backlogs are causing investigations to be dropped by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office because the statute of limitation has run. This week, the Los Angeles Times reports that initial tallies of cases that are affected by the backlog were underestimated. To date, there are 815 sexual assault cases with untested DNA and the statute of limitations has expired on 51 of these cases.

One Sheriff’s County supervisor said that currently 4,738 of the sexual assault kits in county storage facilities remain untested – and about 20% of them are from other police agencies in the county that rely on the sheriff’s crime laboratory for DNA testing. And apparently over 100 of these cases are within six months of the ten year statute of limitations that prosecutors have to file a felony.

These are troubling statistics. On one hand, this evidence may contain the “smoking gun” to put a sexual predator behind bars and keep our communities safe. On the other hand, who knows what sort of exonerating evidence is contained in those nearly 4,800 kits. Either way, it is contrary to how law enforcement should be handling investigations and someone needs to find the resources to get through this backlog quickly and efficiently.

Comments about this post can be directed to Orange County Criminal Defense attorney William Weinberg at (714) 834-1400.