Prosecutors hail new DNA, anti-drug laws

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Indiana prosecutors joined Gov. Eric Holcomb Thursday as he signed two bills prosecutors said are essential to law enforcement’s ability to build criminal cases.

SEA 322 requires every person arrested for a felony to submit a DNA sample, a change from current law that gathers samples only upon a felony conviction.

 “Taking DNA samples of convicted felons has proved effective in solving crime and making our Indiana communities safer as a result,” said Boone County Prosecutor Todd Meyer. “Indiana implemented this measure almost 11 years ago. It was the right thing to do then and the right thing to do now is the passage of this legislation that authorizes law enforcement to take a DNA sample from a felony offender at the time of his arrest. This tool has already proven itself to be effective in solving crime in this state.”

HEA 1406 takes a three-pronged approach to attack the drug epidemic that includes prevention, treatment and enforcement, prosecutors said in a statement to the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council.

The new law enhances sentencing for heroin dealers by allowing law enforcement and prosecutors to aggregate multiple drug sales within a 90-day period that reach a certain total weight. The bill also makes dealing in heroin a non-suspendible Level 2 or Level 3 felony if the person has a prior felony conviction. The bill also addresses pharmacy robberies, making the theft of a controlled substance from a pharmacist acting in their official capacity a Level 4 felony. With aggravating circumstances of using a deadly weapon or causing bodily injury, the charge becomes a Level 2 Felony. Causing serious bodily injury during a pharmacy robbery calls for a Level 1 Felony charge.

“Signing of this bill supports punitive measures against heroin dealers who are profiting from the death and misery suffered by heroin addicts and their families,” said Tippecanoe County Prosecutor Patrick Harrington. “Because certain controlled substances are a gateway to heroin, we also commend the sponsoring legislators for targeting the issue of pharmacy robberies in the state.”

The laws take effect July 1.

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