DNA swab after arrest is Constitutional, Supreme Court rules
The Supreme Court has ruled criminal suspects can be subjected to a police DNA test after arrest -- before trial and conviction -- a privacy-versus-public-safety dispute that could have wide-reaching implications in the rapidly evolving technology surrounding criminal procedure.At issue in the ruling Monday was whether taking genetic samples from someone held without a warrant in criminal custody for "a serious offense" is an unconstitutional "search."A 5-4 majority of the court concluded it is legitimate, and upheld a state law."When officers make an arrest supported by probable cause to hold for a serious offense and they bring the suspect to the station to be detained in custody, taking and analyzing a cheek swab of the arrestee's DNA is, like fingerprinting and photographing, a legitimate police booking procedure that is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment," the majority wrote.
But privacy rights groups counter the state's "trust us" promise not to abuse the technology does not ease their concerns that someone's biological makeup could soon be applied for a variety of non-criminal purposes.Twenty-six states and the federal government allow genetic swabs to be taken after a felony arrest and without a warrant.Each has different procedures, but in all cases, only a profile is created. About 13 individual markers out of some 3 billion are isolated from a suspect's DNA. That selective information does not reveal the full genetic makeup of a person and, officials stress, nothing is shared with any other public or private party, including any medical diagnostics.
Supreme Court: DNA swab after arrest is legitimate search - CNN.com
The case involves a Maryland man convicted of a 2003 rape in Wicomico County in the state's Eastern Shore region. Alonzo King Jr. had been arrested four years ago on an unrelated assault charge, and a biological sample was automatically obtained at that time. That sample was linked to the earlier sexual assault.King moved to suppress that evidence on Fourth Amendment grounds, but was ultimately convicted of the 2003 first-degree rape offense and was given a life sentence. The Fourth Amendment grants the "right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures."