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  1. #1
    Jenna's Avatar
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    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.
    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."
    Supreme Court: DNA swab after arrest is legitimate search - CNN.com

  2. #2
    KaiGywer's Avatar
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    We swab on all felony arrests here.
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by KaiGywer View Post
    We swab on all felony arrests here.
    Same. Not sure how I feel about this, but I'm more comfortable now that the USSC has spoken up about it.
    "If anything worthwhile comes of this tragedy, it should be the realization by every citizen that often the only thing that stands between them and losing everything they hold dear... is the man wearing a badge." -- Ronald Reagan, in the wake of the deaths of 4 CHP troopers in the Newhall Incident, 1970

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  4. #4
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    I often differ with Scalia on analysis, while mostly agreeing in concept: a "terrifying principle" is spot on for both.

  5. #5
    keith720's Avatar
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    We had a case in Wisconsin where an inmate had someone else submit a DNA sample in his place. The Lt. Never verified his identity. The inmate, Walter Ellis, was later arrested and his actual DNA was taken. Turns out he was a serial killer and was charged with ,I believe , seven counts off murder.
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  6. #6
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    I'm all for it after convictions. Just taking it for arrests, nope. More than identifying information in DNA.

  7. #7
    213th's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by That Guy View Post
    I'm all for it after convictions. Just taking it for arrests, nope. More than identifying information in DNA.
    THis is where I sit as a civilian. If you suspect involvement in another crime, and sub is in custody, why not seek a warrant? However, thinking along the lines of other biological evidence collected-breath alcohol? To my knowledge you don't need a warrant anywhere. Blood for blood alcohol? My understanding is that it varies state to state. Fingerprints? Pretty much automatic on arrest. I think I could make a pretty decent devils argument to place DNA in any of these categories, though it wouldn't necessary have it's basis in case law.

  8. #8
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    Financial record disclosure for suspected rapists?

    Scalia had a good point, as usual.

  9. #9
    Jks9199 is offline The Reason People Hate Cops & Causer of War
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    Quote Originally Posted by 213th View Post
    THis is where I sit as a civilian. If you suspect involvement in another crime, and sub is in custody, why not seek a warrant? However, thinking along the lines of other biological evidence collected-breath alcohol? To my knowledge you don't need a warrant anywhere. Blood for blood alcohol? My understanding is that it varies state to state. Fingerprints? Pretty much automatic on arrest. I think I could make a pretty decent devils argument to place DNA in any of these categories, though it wouldn't necessary have it's basis in case law.
    Haven't worked my way through the entire ruling yet, but I can see it both ways on the DNA.

    Breath or blood testing for alcohol or drugs is permitted by consent. Even in states with implied consent laws (and there was a recent case on this involving whether a kid can consent) -- it's still consent. You can revoke your consent; you just face whatever the additional sanctions are. If I want to or need to compel a sample over your refusal, I have to get a search warrant.

    Fingerprints at booking are a means of identification (I know this was covered in both the majority opinion and the dissent, though, again, I haven't read them in detail). Especially with the spread of automated fingerprint ID systems, we get confirmation or alerts on a suspect's identity in minutes. But those prints CAN be compared against previously unknown prints in the system, too, and they usually are.

    DNA, via buccal swab, raised other concerns. In the instant case, you've got someone who was identified and charged with an older offense solely or primarily due to the DNA match. You don't have a massive intrusion into the body; just a q-tip swiped around the cheek. Reportedly, the markers currently used don't reveal personal medical information -- but that's easily changed as we understand DNA better. I've got some mixed feelings here, and need to finish reading the whole opinion.
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  10. #10
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    Not widely known(in the UK) but when babies are given that little heel prick when first born that information including a dna profile if needed could potentially be recovered. Anyway for any conspiracy theorist out there maybe the government has everyone's DNA anyway?
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