Chester county criminal defense attorney comments on recent US Supreme Court decision enhancing the government’s power to obtain DNA samples.
In June 2013 the US Supreme Court ruled that the police may take DNA samples from people arrested in connection with serious crimes. This is a significant development, extending the governments reach beyond prior rulings which allowed the collection of DNA material for felony convicts.
Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority that officers who make an arrest supported by probable cause to hold someone for a serious offense may take and analyze a cheek swab of the Rustys DNA, akin to fingerprinting and photographing and to be considered a legitimate police booking procedure that is reasonable under the fourth amendment.
Justice Kennedy wrote that the quick and painless swapping procedure was a search under the fourth amendment so that it needed to be justified as reasonable under the circumstances because of the need for law enforcement officers in a safe and Acraway to process and identify the persons and possessions they must take into custody.
The Supreme Court’s interpretation of the fourth amendment to allow a DNA sample is a radical development for the bench and one that is certainly questions and criticize by one of its most conservative justices, Anton Scalia.
Just to school he made a rare disagreement with the conservative majority, accusing them of a rationale that taxes the credulity of the credulous. Justice Scalia himself commented, that because of today’s decision, your DNA can be taken and entered into a national database if you were ever arrested, rightly or wrongly, and for whatever reason.
Scalia further scorned the majority stating, that solving crime is a noble objective but it occupies a lower place in the American pantheon of noble objectives in the protection of our people from suspicious law enforcement searches. The fourth amendment must prevail.
A review of this June 2000 decision suggest that anyone who has been arrested what is determined to be a serious crime can be subject to a DNA test and added to a database for further use by law enforcement officials and anyone else who may have access to this database.
Imagine a family member getting arrested for a driving while under the influence offense in West Chester, PA and being subject to a DNA analysis. Even if this is a first offense DUI in Chester County, will the individual be successful in having that DNA test removed from the database? Who is to ensure that the policing powers will remove a DNA sample from a wrongfully accused person? What steps need to be taken to police the police now that the majority Supreme Court has unleashed a decision of this nature.