Supreme Court Ruling Expands DNA Use In Criminal Cases
- June 17, 2013
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DNA obtained by police during arrest for assault charges is not illegal search and seizure and may be used to convict defendant of rape charges. The defendant, in Maryland v. King, was arrested for first and second degree assault charges in 2009 and as a standard part of their booking process, police in Maryland took a DNA sample by way of buccal swab from defendant’s cheek. The DNA matched an unsolved rape from 2003 and defendant was charged with the rape. Defendant sought to have the DNA match suppressed as a violation of his fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure. Suppression was denied on the basis that a buccal swab from the cheek is an non-intrusive part of the identification process undertaken during booking and is akin to photographing and fingerprinting. Law enforcement has a massive database of DNA evidence. There is likely to be widespread expansion of this practice following the court’s decision in King. Justice Antonin Scalia provided a lengthy dissent to the opinion which includes the warning that the decision of the Supreme Court in King will lead to the taking of DNA and entry thereof “into a national DNA database if you are ever arrested, rightly or wrongly, and for whatever reason. Many states already use methods of DNA collection which go well beyond those in King, including: (1) requesting DNA from uncharged suspects or witnesses to ‘allow them to prove their innocence’; (2) implicating those who have DNA matches similar to DNA found at a crime scene in order to see if they will provide information about a family member’s actual participation; (3) obtaining DNA samples from going through a person’s trash; and (4) filing felony charges to get defendants to trade DNA for a ‘lesser sentence’ as part of a negotiated plea. In the event you are arrested, it is critical that your rights are upheld throughout the police investigation and procedures. If you have been charged with robbery, burglary, gun or other weapons charges, drug distribution or possession, rape of other sex crimes, conspiracy or any other criminal offense in NJ, you should immediately obtain an experienced criminal defense attorney to protect your rights. For more information on protecting your rights if charged with possession, distribution or other crimes in NJ visit HeatherDarlingLawyer.com. This blog is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of an attorney.