Those facing criminal charges in Missouri may have heard of a recent United States Supreme Court case, Maryland vs. King, 12-207. This case reinstated a sexual assault conviction that had been overturned, and upheld a Maryland law that allows for the collection of DNA samples when police make an arrest. The White House and some of the Supreme Court justices compared the routine collection of DNA samples to fingerprinting, but the court’s dissenting opinion maintains that the practice violates the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
The court’s decision was a close one, at five to four. The person convicted in the 2003 sexual assault did not face criminal charges until six years later, when he was arrested on an unrelated assault charge. The police collected a DNA sample when they arrested him on the assault charge and were able to match it to evidence from the sexual assault investigation. The sexual assault conviction was overturned by the Maryland Supreme Court on the grounds that the conviction was a result of unreasonable search and seizure.
The dissenting justices on the United Supreme Court agreed with the ruling by the Maryland Supreme Court. The justice who made the unusual move of reading a summary of the dissent from the bench asserted that the practice of collecting DNA at arrest is a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment protection of citizens to be secure in their persons. The majority held that DNA analysis allows law enforcement officials to clearly identify suspects.
It is critical for anyone who has been arrested and had a DNA sample collected to speak with an attorney as soon as possible. A qualified attorney may be able to advise on how this material might be used and what steps need to be taken. It may be discovered that the DNA sample was collected illegally, and therefore inadmissible in court.
Source: Bloomberg, “Routine DNA Testing After Arrest Upheld by Top U.S. Court“, Greg Stohr, June 03, 2013