The U.S. Supreme Court announced its decision this week in Maryland v. King, allowing law enforcement officers around the country to take a cheek swab after an arrest for a serious crime. Cheek cells contain a person’s DNA, which can then be used to determine whether an arrested person can be tied to open, unsolved crimes through CODIS. And, that DNA information can possibly be stored forever.
In deciding that DNA sampling after an arrest was acceptable, the Justices in the majority considered DNA typing to be the modern-day equivalent of fingerprinting, a widely-accepted booking process. But at least one Justice wondered where the line would be drawn on DNA collection – now that anyone who is arrested can by typed and profiled, can that extend to all school teachers? Other work places? What about to anyone who is given a driver’s license?
The Court did not define what a serious crime is that would allow for collection of DNA after arrest, nor did it determine whether DNA evidence should be removed from the database if the arrested person is not convicted of a crime or tied to another open case through the national database. Currently, CODIS guidelines and North Carolina law allow a DNA profile to be removed if there is no conviction.
North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper appeared pleased with the Supreme Court’s decision, noting in a release that the collection of DNA can help solve open crimes, decrease investigation time and exonerate the innocent. North Carolina law currently allows for the collection of DNA after an arrest for a serious felony offense.
Source: WFMY News, “Police Can Collect DNA From Arrests In Serious Crimes, Supreme Court Rules,” June 3, 2013