If you’re a fortune teller, cheat on your spouse, or are loud in church, in New York State, the government will soon legally have the right to retrieve your DNA and put it in a DNA Databank — that’s thanks to an agreement Governor Andrew Cuomo reached with legislative leaders earlier this week on the governor’s “All Crimes DNA Bill.”
Previously, the state could only swipe the DNA of people convicted of violent felonies. The law was later changed to include all felonies. And now big brother’s gone a step further — anyone convicted of a “penal code misdemeanor” must now hand their DNA over to the government.
The idea is to be able to expand the database to potentially link people to unsolved crimes, which, obviously, would be beneficial for law enforcement. But civil rights groups say it goes too far, and that it opens the door for potential error and fraud at state crime labs.
Wherever you stand on the issue, it’s soon to be state statute — and the best way to avoid having to cough up your DNA is to not break the law.
That said, we went through all of New York’s penal code misdemeanors, and many of them we didn’t even know were crimes — for example, if you “harass” a seeing-eye dog, or if you’re convicted of “jostling,” you will soon have to give your DNA to the government.
Below is a list of some of the more-ridiculous crimes — some of which we didn’t even know were illegal — as defined by New York’s Penal Code, that will get your DNA in the state’s databank.
(Note: we realize many of these misdemeanors have specific intents, and aren’t completely worthless. However, they’re vague, and offer a lot of prosecutorial discretion, which means a malicious prosecutor could potentially roll the dice and apply them in places they were never intended to be applied. Then: ta-da! — the government gets your DNA).
-Fortune Telling: A person is guilty of fortune telling when, for a fee or compensation which he directly or indirectly solicits or receives, he claims or pretends to tell fortunes, or holds himself out as being able, by claimed or pretended use of occult powers, to answer questions or give advice on personal matters or to exorcise, influence or affect evil spirits or curses; except that this section does not apply to a person who engages in the aforedescribed conduct as part of a show or exhibition solely for the purpose of entertainment or amusement.
(Note: Pat Robertson would be screwed).
-Adultery: A person is guilty of adultery when he engages in sexual intercourse with another person at a time when he has a living spouse, or the other person has a living spouse.
-Unlawfully Refusing to Yield a Party Line:
1. As used in this section: (a) “Party line” means a subscriber`s line telephone circuit, consisting of two or more main telephone stations connected therewith, each station with a distinctive ring or telephone number. (b) “Emergency call” means a telephone call to a police or fire department, or for medical aid or ambulance service, necessitated by a situation in which human life or property is in jeopardy and prompt summoning of aid is essential.
2. A person is guilty of unlawfully refusing to yield a party line when, being informed that a party line is needed for an emergency call, he refuses immediately to relinquish such line.
Unlawfully refusing to yield a party line is a class B misdemeanor.
(Note: there’s a difference between being a dick and being a criminal — and there’s something fishy about the word “immediately”).
-Having a Police Scanner:
As used in this section, the term “radio device” means any device capable of receiving a wireless voice transmission on any frequency allocated for police use, or any device capable of transmitting and receiving a wireless voice transmission. A person is guilty of unlawful possession of a radio device when he possesses a radio device with the intent to use that device in the commission of robbery, burglary, larceny, gambling or a violation of any provision of article two hundred twenty of the penal law.
-Jostling: A person is guilty of jostling when, in a public place, he intentionally and unnecessarily:
1. Places his hand in the proximity of a person`s pocket or handbag;
2. Jostles or crowds another person at a time when a third person`s
hand is in the proximity of such person`s pocket or handbag.
Jostling is a class A misdemeanor.
(Note: if you’ve been on a New York City subway at about 8:45 a.m., and found your hand squished between some guy’s hip and a woman’s purse, a prosecutor with something to prove could make the case that you’re a jostler: DNA databank time).
-Disruption of Religious Services: A person is guilty of disruption or disturbance of a religious service, funeral, burial or memorial service when he or she makes unreasonable noise or disturbance while at a lawfully assembled religious service, funeral, burial or memorial service, or within one hundred feet thereof, with intent to cause annoyance or alarm or recklessly creating a risk thereof.
(Note: we can probably thank the Westboro Baptist bozos for this one, but, as written, if you fart in church, it could be argued that you’re a criminal. Congratulations: you’re the newest member of the DNA database club).
-Misapplication of Property: A person is guilty of misapplication of property when, knowingly possessing personal property of another pursuant to an agreement that the same will be returned to the owner at a future time,
(a) he loans, leases, pledges, pawns or otherwise encumbers such property without the consent of the owner thereof in such manner as to create a risk that the owner will not be able to recover it or will suffer pecuniary loss; or
(b) he intentionally refuses to return personal property valued in excess of one hundred dollars to the owner pursuant to the terms of the rental agreement provided that the owner shall have made a written demand for the return of such personal property in person or by certified mail at an address indicated in the rental agreement and he intentionally refuses to return such personal property for a period of thirty days after such demand has been received or should reasonably have been received by him. Such written demand shall state: (i) the date and time at which the personal property was to have been returned under the rental agreement; (ii) that the owner does not consent to the continued withholding or retaining of such personal property and demands its return; and (iii) that the continued withholding or retaining of the
property may constitute a class A misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to one thousand dollars or by a sentence to a term of imprisonment for a period of up to one year or by both such fine and imprisonment.
(Note: as this law is written, if your neighbor lends you a shovel, and you then loan that shovel to another neighbor, you’ve potentially committed a misdemeanor — and your DNA will be turned over to a government database).
-Tampering With a Sports Contest in the Second Degree: A person is guilty of tampering with a sports contest when, with intent to influence the outcome of a sports contest, he tampers with any sports participant, sports official or with any animal or equipment or other thing involved in the conduct or operation of a sports contest in a manner contrary to the rules and usages purporting to govern such a contest.
(Note: for this statute, “sports contest” is defined as “any professional or amateur sport or athletic game or contest viewed by the public.” With that definition, if you get a guy drunk before a softball game with the hopes that he’ll play worse, you’re technically breaking the law. DNA database).
-Criminal Sale of a Police Uniform: A person is guilty of criminal sale of a police uniform when he or she sells or offers for sale the uniform of any police officer to any person, unless presented with a valid photo identification card showing the purchaser to be a member of the police department which has authorized the requested uniform or an authorization to purchase
specified uniforms signed by the police chief or the police commissioner of such police department accompanied by a personal photo identification. For purposes of this section, “police officer” shall include federal law enforcement officers, as defined in section 2.15 of
the criminal procedure law; and “uniform” shall include all or any part of the uniform which identifies the wearer as a member of a police department, such as the uniform, shield, badge, numbers or other identifying insignias or emblems.
(Note: we get it, but seriously? Say hello to the DNA database)
-Burn Injury and Wounds to Be Reported: Every case of a burn injury or wound, where the victim sustained second or third degree burns to five percent or more of the body and/or any burns to the upper respiratory tract or laryngeal edema due to the inhalation of super-heated air, and every case of a burn injury or wound which is likely to or may result in death, shall be reported at once to the office of fire prevention and control. The state fire administrator shall accept the report and notify the proper investigatory agency. A written report shall also be provided to the office of fire prevention and control within seventy-two hours. The report shall be made by (a) the physician attending or treating the case; or (b) the manager, superintendent or other person in charge, whenever such case is treated in a hospital, sanitarium, institution or other medical facility.
(Note: as this law stands, if you fall into a campfire (which is not an uncommon occurrence during a late-night camping tripe) — but want to act like a tough guy and not go to the hospital, or call Fire Prevention and Control — you’re a criminal, and your DNA will be entered into a government-controlled database).
-Creating a Hazard: A person is guilty of creating a hazard when:
1. Having discarded in any place where it might attract children, a container which has a compartment of more than one and one-half cubic feet capacity and a door or lid which locks or fastens automatically when closed and which cannot easily be opened from the inside, he fails to remove the door, lid, locking or fastening device; or
2. Being the owner or otherwise having possession of property upon which an abandoned well or cesspool is located, he fails to cover the same with suitable protective construction. Creating a hazard is a class B misdemeanor.
As you can see, a lot of these “crimes” are really just attempts to keep people from being dicks, not criminals — just remember, if you lend out something someone let you borrow, or refuse to give up a telephone so someone can call an ambulance, the state can now legally take your DNA.
Click here to see New York’s complete penal law index.