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Supreme Court Upholds Law to Take DNA on Arrest Without Probable Cause

In a holding further eroding the Fourth Amendment, the United States Supreme Court today has upheld a law that allow the police to take your DNA if you are arrested without probable cause.  Here is a summary of the case from www.HuffingtonPost.com.  If you have a criminal case in Maine's Federal or State Courts, call Zerillo Law at 207.775.4255 or visit www.GetZerillo.com.

MARYLAND, PETITIONER v. ALONZO JAY KING, JR.
No. 12-207.
SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
2013 U.S. LEXIS 4165
February 26, 2013, Argued 
June 3, 2013, Decided
 
Supreme Court: DNA Samples Can Be Taken From Arrestees Without Warrant
By JESSE J. HOLLAND 06/03/13 12:35 PM ET EDT 
 
WASHINGTON -- A sharply divided Supreme Court on Monday said police can routinely take DNA from people they arrest, equating a DNA cheek swab to other common jailhouse procedures like fingerprinting.
"Taking and analyzing a cheek swab of the arrestee DNA is, like fingerprinting and photographing, a legitimate police booking procedure that is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment," Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the court's five-justice majority.

But the four dissenting justices said that the court was allowing a major change in police powers.

"Make no mistake about it: because of today's decision, your DNA can be taken and entered into a national database if you are ever arrested, rightly or wrongly, and for whatever reason," conservative Justice Antonin Scalia said in a sharp dissent which he read aloud in the courtroom. "This will solve some extra crimes, to be sure. But so would taking your DNA when you fly on an airplane - surely the TSA must know the `identity' of the flying public. For that matter, so would taking your children's DNA when they start public school."

Twenty-eight states and the federal government now take DNA swabs after arrests. But a Maryland court was one of the first to say that it was illegal for that state to take Alonzo King's DNA without approval from a judge, saying King had "a sufficiently weighty and reasonable expectation of privacy against warrantless, suspicionless searches" under the Fourth Amendment.

But the high court's decision reverses that ruling and reinstates King's rape conviction, which came after police took his DNA during an unrelated arrest. Kennedy wrote the decision, and was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas and Stephen Breyer. Scalia was joined in his dissent by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

Maryland's DNA collection law only allows police to take DNA from those arrested for serious crimes like murder, rape, assault, burglary and other crimes of violence. In his ruling, Kennedy did not say whether the court's decision limits DNA only to those crimes, but he did note that other states' DNA collection laws differ from Maryland's.

Scalia saw that as a flaw. "If you believe that a DNA search will identify someone arrested for bank robbery, you must believe that it will identify someone arrested for running a red light," he said.

Getting DNA swabs from criminals is common. All 50 states and the federal government take cheek swabs from convicted criminals to check against federal and state databanks, with the court's blessing. The fight at the Supreme Court was over whether that DNA collection could come before conviction and without a judge issuing a warrant.

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