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History

Forensic History of DNA: Highlights

1891
Captain Juan Vucetich a young Argentinian police captain changed forensic science forever with the first use of fingerprint evidence left at the crime scene (latent fingerprint) to solve the dual murder of two young children.

1983
A young woman was found sexually assaulted and murdered in a small town near Leicester, United Kingdom. After an intensive police investigation the case remained unsolved. Three years later, under similar circumstance and in a nearby town, another young woman was sexually assaulted and murdered. A suspect was eventually identified in the second case. Police investigators sent samples of forensic evidence from both crime scenes and a sample of the suspect's blood to Dr. Alec Jeffreys, a prominent British scientist conducting research in evolution using DNA. Dr. Jeffreys was able to tell the police two things:

  1. The DNA evidence collected at both crime scenes came from the same person (thereby linking the crime scenes together and identifying a serial offender); and
  2. The suspect's DNA did not match the DNA evidence from the crime scenes and the first prominent use of forensic DNA evidence led to an exoneration of an individual who confessed to the crime.

Blood samples were later taken from more than 4500 men in the surrounding communities. A DNA match was found, and one man was convicted of both murders/sexual assaults.

1989
In early April, the RCMP first used DNA analysis in an investigation of a sexual assault in Ottawa, Ontario. The victim visually identified her assailant but the suspect denied any involvement in the sexual assault. DNA analysis later confirmed the suspect was the perpetrator. In mid trial but after the DNA evidence was presented, the suspect suddenly changed his plea to guilty.

1995
Parliament made history when Bill C-104 was unanimously passed in a single day which, enabled a judge to issue a warrant allowing police to obtain DNA evidence from suspects in a criminal investigation.

1998
A special DNA typing task force led by the RCMP which included scientist from both the RCMP and the Centre of Forensic Sciences, used DNA analysis to help identify human remains from the Swissair Flight 111 disaster.

2000
Launch of the National DNA Data Bank, and proclamation of Bill C-3, enabling a judge to authorize collection of DNA samples from offenders convicted of designated offences.

Chronology of DNA legislation in Canada

July 1995
Bill C-104, Forensic DNA analysis (Statutes of Canada 1995, c. 27) receives Royal Assent. The bill amends the Criminal Code and the Young Offenders Act to enable judges to issue a warrant allowing police to obtain DNA evidence from suspects in criminal investigations. This is Phase I of the Government of Canada's DNA Strategy which provided the legislative framework for the use of DNA evidence in criminal proceedings.

January 1996
Phase II of the Government of Canada's DNA Strategy begins with nation-wide consultations for the establishment of a national DNA data bank.

December 1998
Bill C-3, DNA Identification Act (Statutes of Canada 1998, c. 37) receives Royal Assent. Work begins with an 18-month schedule to establish the NDDB.

November 1999
Bill S-10 is tabled in the Senate. Based on Senate recommendations, the Bill contains amendments to Bill C-3 including: the taking of fingerprints for identification purposes, the inclusion of offenders convicted of designated offences in the military justice system, and a full legislative review of the DNA legislation and NDDB to be conducted by the Senate and House of Commons after five years.

May 2000
Partial proclamation of Bill C-3 to permit the creation of the DNA Data Bank Advisory Committee by Regulations.

June 2000
Full proclamation of Bills C-3 and S-10. DNA sample collections are to commence immediately following proclamation.

May 2005
Royal Assent of Bill C-13, Act to amend the Criminal Code, the DNA Identification Act and the National Defence Act (Statutes of Canada, 2005, c. 25). Amendments to expand the retroactive scheme, to clarify the NDDB DNA profile sharing procedures with Canadian forensic laboratories, and to establish procedures to confirm the validity of DNA orders come into force on Royal Assent. Other provisions of the Bill will come into force on proclamation.

June 2007
Royal Assent of Bill C-18, Act to amend certain Acts in relation to DNA identification (Statutes of Canada 2007, c. 22). Amendments to facilitate the implementation of Bill C-13, and:

  • further expand the retroactive scheme to include attempted murder and conspiracy, and replace the "is serving a sentence of two years or more" requirement with "is on the date of the application serving a sentence of imprisonment" for that offence;
  • the court can issue a DNA order for an offence committed at any time, including before June 30, 2000, if that offence is a DNA designated offence when the person is sentenced or discharged;
  • allow for DNA orders to be made within 90 days after the person is sentenced or found not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder;
  • creation of Primary Compulsory offences category;
  • creation of Secondary Generic designated offences category: any offence that is prosecuted by indictment and that the maximum punishment is imprisonment for five years or more;
  • allow a person to be summoned for the execution of a DNA order and penalties for failure to appear;
  • DNA orders are valid Canada wide;
  • clarify international NDDB DNA profile sharing procedures; and,
  • clarify destruction procedures for defective orders.

January 2008
Full proclamation of Bills C-13 and C-18. Amending the DNA Identification Act, National Defence Act and the Criminal Code.

June 2009
Parliamentary Statutory Review of the DNA legislation and the NDDB by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security (SECU Report, June 2009). The government response in October 2009 accepted in principle the SECU Report's recommendations.

October 2009
Full proclamation of Bill C-14, Organized crime and protection of justice system participants (Statutes of Canada 2009, c. 22). The Bill amended the Criminal Code by adding three offences to the list of primary compulsory offences.

June 2010
Parliamentary Statutory Review of the DNA legislation and the NDDB by the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs (Report- June 2010). The Government response in December 2010 noted that recommendations requiring legislative change are "in broad agreement" with those made by SECU and that operational recommendations would require broader discussion.

June 2010
Proclamation of Bill C-268, Minimum sentencing for trafficking of persons under the age of 18 years (Statutes of Canada 2010, c. 3). The Bill amended the Criminal Code by adding one offence to the list of primary presumptive offences.

April 2011
Proclamation of Bill S-2, Protecting Victims from Sex Offenders Act (Statutes of Canada 2010, c. 17). The Bill amended the Criminal Code to make DNA sampling mandatory for convicted sex offenders and added six offences to the list of primary offences (4 compulsory and 2 presumptive). Convicted sex offenders arriving in Canada must also be registered in the National Sex Offender Registry.

August 2012
Proclamation of Bill C-10, Safe Streets and Communities Act (Statutes of Canada 2012, c. 1). The Bill amended the Criminal Code by adding two offences to the list of primary compulsory offences.

June 2013
Proclamation of Bill C-309, Preventing persons from concealing their identity during riots and unlawful assemblies Act (Statutes of Canada 2013, c. 15). The Bill amended the Criminal Code by creating two offences that meet the criteria to be a secondary generic offence.

July 2013
Proclamation of Bill S-7, Combatting Terrorism Act (Statutes of Canada 2013, c. 9). The Bill amended the Criminal Code by adding four offences to the list of primary presumptive offences.

November 2013
Proclamation of Bill S-9, Nuclear Terrorism Act (Statutes of Canada 2013, c. 13). The Bill amended the Criminal Code by adding four offences to the list of primary presumptive offences.

June 2014
Proclamation of Bill C-394, Criminal organization recruitment (Statutes of Canada 2014, c. 17). The Bill amended the Criminal Code by adding one offence to the list of primary presumptive offences.

June 2014
Proclamation of Bill C-217, Mischief relating to war memorials (Statutes of Canada 2014, c. 9). The Bill amended the Criminal Code by creating one offence that meets the criteria to be a secondary generic offence.

December 2014
Proclamation of Bill C-36, Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act (Statutes of Canada 2014, c. 25). The Bill amended the Criminal Code by adding six new primary mandatory offences, four new presumptive offences and a new offence to the list of secondary listed (discretionary) offences. Also, the Bill created a class of primary mandatory historical offences and primary presumptive historical offences.

December 2014
Royal Assent of Bill C-43, Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 (Statutes of Canada 2014, c. 39). The Bill amends the DNA Identification Act to expand the national use of DNA analysis so it could be used in missing persons' investigations. Five new indices within the NDDB will eventually be created: three that will support humanitarian efforts and two that will strengthen existing operations.

March 2015
Proclamation of Bill C-13, Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act (Statutes of Canada 2014, c. 31). The Bill amended the Criminal Code by creating one offence that meets the criteria to be a secondary generic offence.

April 2015
Proclamation of Bill C-10, Tackling Contraband Tobacco Act (Statutes of Canada 2014, c. 23). The Bill amended the Criminal Code by creating one offence that meets the criteria to be a secondary generic offence.

June 2015
Proclamation of Bill C-51, Anti-Terrorism Act, 2015 (Statutes of Canada 2015, c. 20). The Bill amended the Criminal Code by adding one offence to the list of primary presumptive offences.

June 2015
Proclamation of Bill C-35, Justice for Animals in Service Act (Statutes of Canada 2015, c. 34). The Bill amended the Criminal Code by creating one offence that meets the criteria to be a secondary generic offence.

July 2015
Proclamation of Bill S-7, Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act (Statutes of Canada 2015, c. 29). The Bill amended the Criminal Code by creating two offences that meet the criteria to be a secondary generic offence.

NDDB Milestones

July 6th, 2000
First crime scene DNA profile received in CODIS

July 7th, 2000
First convicted offender sample received at the NDDB

July 31st, 2000
First convicted offender DNA profile entered in CODIS

September 5th, 2000
First Match (identical twins in Convicted Offender Index)

October 13th, 2000
First match between a convicted offender and a crime scene

November 10th, 2000
First match between two crime scenes

December 13th, 2000
First murder investigation aided

December 5th, 2001
First 100 matches between crime scenes and convicted offenders

April 8th, 2002
First 200 matches between crime scenes and convicted offenders

April 25th, 2002
The RCMP signs an agreement with Interpol to share DNA information in support of international criminal investigations

May 14th, 2002
First international match with the Crime Scene Index

November 13th, 2002
First international match with the Convicted Offender Index

July 31st, 2003
First 1,000 matches between crime scenes and convicted offenders

February 13th, 2004
First 100 matches between two crime scenes

May 27th,2004
First 2,000 matches between crime scenes and convicted offenders

February 21st, 2005
First 3,000 matches between crime scenes and convicted offenders

May 19th, 2005
Sections 5, 16, 17 and 30.1 of Bill C-13 received Royal Assent

October 12th, 2005
First 4,000 matches between crime scenes and convicted offenders

August 14th, 2006
Over 100,000 convicted offender profiles entered into CODIS

April 19th, 2007
First 7,000 matches between crime scenes and convicted offenders