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Florida Eliminates DNA Testing Deadline

During its 2006 Legislative session, the Florida Legislature enacted a law that eliminates deadlines for when prisoners can request DNA testing.
That law comes on the heels of numerous prisoners being released from death row and imprisonment on lesser sentences for crimes they did not commit.

Previously, a four-year deadline had been imposed by law. The Florida Supreme Court extended that deadline, which was to expire in October 2005, until July 1, 2006. In the spring of 2006, lawmakers in Florida made a decision to eliminate deadlines for DNA testing.

The new law allows prisoners, regardless of whether they entered a plea or went to trial, to seek DNA testing at any time. While the new law applies to those convicted prior to enactment, it may severely limit DNA testing in cases where a plea is entered after July 1, 2007.

After that date, the judge must go through a plea colloquy that covers DNA testing, prohibiting later testing unless it is proven lawyers withheld knowledge about DNA evidence. This could affect innocent prisoners who accepted plea bargains by being bullied, threatened, or given bad legal advice.

Source: Associated Press; Florida House Bill 61.

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