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DNA Test After Arrest
The latest Supreme Court decision of Maryland v. King gives law enforcement another way to identify a suspect. In a 5-4 decision, the Court stated that officers are allowed to take DNA samples from an arrestee and enter the samples into a database. In this case, the officers in Maryland swabbed the cheek of Alonzo Jay King Jr. to extract a DNA sample. Mr. King stated that this procedure violated his Fourth Amendment right.
The Court disagrees. According to the court, this procedure was not intrusion. Also, this procedure is used to identify a suspect in custody. In addition, the Court stated that this procedure should only occur if the person is arrested for a serious crime.
The dissent is concerned about the ambiguous statement of a “serious crime.” It is not known what constitutes a serious crime. There are many crimes that are serious to one individual, but may not be serious to another individual. Also, the dissent feels this procedure is an intrusion by the government. They see no need for the government to conduct this treatment.
In addition, people who are wrongfully arrested will still have to submit to this procedure. It requires a low standard to be arrested, so there will be plenty innocent people who would have to go through this procedure. Also, their information will not be deleted from the data base.
Scalia writing for the dissent pointed out that the main purpose, according to the majority, of the cheek swab was to identify the arrestee, but the officers knew Mr. King’s identification prior to the cheek swab. He went on to say that there is no reason for officers to conduct this procedure.
This case will have an impact on the way law enforcement process information after an arrest. As science improves, the Court will have to tackle other forms of indentifying an individual.
If you have questions about a DNA test after an arrest, contact Criminal Defense Attorney Vik Monder at 619.405.0063 or visit San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney