Can your DNA be taken if you are arrested? Supreme Court will decide
The United States Supreme Court recently heard arguments in a case that could substantially affect the rights of those accused of a serious crime. The case will decide whether the Fourth Amendment (right against unreasonable search and seizure) allows states to collect and analyze DNA from people who are arrested and charged with serious crimes.
Colorado is among the more than half states that have passed laws requiring DNA collection upon arrest for a felony offense or investigation of a felony offense-also known as Katie’s Law. The Supreme Court’s decision in the case of Maryland v. King could call the constitutionality of such laws into question.
Background of the case
Alonzo King, Jr. was arrested in 2009 and charged with first and second-degree assault. Pursuant to Maryland’s law, which is similar to Colorado’s law, law enforcement collected a sample of King’s DNA. King admitted to the crime and was convicted of assault, a misdemeanor and an offense that the law did not require DNA collection.
Despite this, a few months later, King’s DNA was entered into a database and it was found that it matched a profile from a robbery and rape case six years earlier. Based on this information, police obtained a warrant, collected another DNA sample from King and confirmed that it matched the profile. King was then charged with the rape.
At trial, King’s attorney unsuccessfully tried to exclude the DNA evidence by arguing that the DNA collection was unconstitutional since it was done without a warrant and without evidence that proved his involvement with the rape at the time of the arrest. The court of appeals reversed the trial court’s decision, holding that the initial DNA collection was unconstitutional for suspects who are arrested but not convicted of a felony, as the suspects’ privacy rights outweighed the state’s interest in using DNA to identify possible perpetrators of crimes.
The case was then appealed to the United States Supreme Court, who will make the final decision.
Consult a criminal defense attorney
As a suspect only has to be suspected of committing a felony offense under Colorado law before his or her DNA must be taken, this ruling could have a profound effect on how the law is applied. If the court rules in favor of King, it would more than likely make the current law unconstitutional, possibly calling the convictions of many into question. The court’s decision is expected this spring.
If you have been arrested for a serious crime, it is important to protect your rights. Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to ensure that your constitutional rights are honored.