We blogged earlier this week about the U.S. Supreme Court potentially weighing in next session on whether law enforcement can collect DNA samples from people who are arrested and accused of a crime before he or she is actually convicted. North Carolina law currently allows law enforcement to do just that – take a DNA sample once you’re arrested.
The DNA Database Act of 2010 requires law enforcement to take cheek swabs (a quick method for collecting DNA) of those arrested for certain crimes.
The law was championed as a tool to help law enforcement find and capture those who commit serious offenses in North Carolina but opponents of the law say that it allows law enforcement to step on the 4th Amendment rights of those who are accused. Taking a DNA sample is an unreasonable search and seizure of private information when the person has only been accused and not convicted of a serious offense.
Prior to the DNA collection law being passed in 2011, police had to obtain a warrant for DNA evidence before they were legally allowed to collect it. For those who are later acquitted or have their charges dismissed, their DNA information is supposed to be removed from the statewide database.
DNA is a powerful tool that law enforcement can use to tie a person to a crime or crime scene when other evidence is slim or nonexistent. Adding DNA to the state and national database is expected to help close multiple cases that have gone cold – the existing physical evidence, without DNA, was not enough to lead investigators to the perpetrator.
Source: StarNewsOnline, “N.C. law allowing collection of DNA takes effect,” Matt Tomsic, January 31, 2012