Supreme Court Rules DNA Collection on Arrest Constitutional,Under Certain Circumstances
On Monday June 3, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Maryland v. King (12-207) that “When officers make an arrest supported by probable cause to hold for a serious offense and they bring the suspect to the station to be detained in custody, taking and analyzing a cheek swab of the arrestee’s DNA is, like fingerprinting and photographing, a legitimate police booking procedure that is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment.” (at 28) The 5-4 majority opinion of the Court was delivered by Justice Kennedy and joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Thomas, Alito and Breyer. Justice Scalia filed a dissenting opinion joined by Justices Ginsburg, Sotomayor and Kagan.
Read the entire press release here with links to NACDL's Resolution of the Board of Directors Opposing the Expansion of DNA Databases, NACDL’s amicus curiae brief in Maryland v. King, filed February 1, 2013, and
The Court’s opinion in Maryland v. King.
DNA, first used in the United States in the 1980's, has cleared well over 250 prisoners held for a variety of offenses, many of whom were on death row. Aside from alleviating unjust incarcerations and averting wrongful executions, in about half these cases, DNA testing has led to the real perpetrator. Despite these facts, it remains difficult to obtain post-conviction DNA testing under the current law in some states. Because there are few greater injustices than keeping an innocent person behind bars while denying them the opportunity to prove their innocence, NACDL urges the states to adopt adequate procedures for preserving biological evidence, making DNA testing available to inmates, and allowing applications for post-conviction relief based on favorable DNA results.
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