Illinois Crime Labs Severely Backed Up

Being charged with a crime can cause a lot of problems in a person’s life. Even having charges or arrests on a person’s record may impact their work, eligibility for public benefits and student loans and even housing opportunities. To make matters worse in Illinois, a person accused of a crime sometimes has to wait long periods of time before their cases are even investigated because the crime labs in Illinois are terribly backed up – often leaving the accused in a state of limbo because of the delay in bringing potential criminal charges.

Backlogs of Evidence

In several types of crimes, DNA evidence is available and has the potential to exonerate or prove the guilt of the accused. People facing criminal charges in Illinois, however, have to wait months for the DNA evidence to even be tested. In one instance, a suspect in a crash that killed one highway worker and injured three others had to wait about four months to even be charged with the crime because of the long wait for toxicology testing.

There are 420 other cases just like this one where individuals suspected or charged with a crime have to wait many months for the toxicology tests to occur. This is in addition to blood alcohol tests and DNA tests that are waiting to be run. The average DNA test in May 2012 was about 145 days old, compared with May 2010 where the average DNA case was 59 days old.

Slow Turnaround time for Police Investigations

The issues in the crime labs are causing police to have slow turnaround times for their case investigations. This in turn causes suspects and those charged with crimes the agony of having to wait to see if they will have to go through a criminal trial. Illinois police say they try to have their investigations completed for many cases in about 30 days, but this is not happening now with cases that require assistance from the crime lab, unless these cases have higher priority.

This is not only causing problems for those suspected or accused of a crime, but it is costing the state money. Some police stations are requesting additional funding to send their evidence to a new crime lab in Northeastern Illinois. Also, there are times when evidence has to go to expensive outside vendors in order for testing to be completed on time.

Not only does the waiting time impact the accused’s everyday life, it may affect their basic rights as human beings. The backlog of evidence only makes them wait longer to find out what is going to happen to them. An experienced criminal law attorney can take some of the stress off the accused, make sure that they are getting treated fairly and help protect their rights.

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