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The Supreme Court has decided to review a case involving when the police can take a DNA sample from a suspect, SCOTUS Blog reports.The case, King v. Maryland, involves whether it violates the Fourth Amendment protection against illegal search and seizure for police take a DNA sample after an arrest when the individual has not yet been convicted of a crime.
At least 21 states and the federal government have regulations requiring suspects to give a DNA sample upon arrest. The saliva samples are then cataloged in crime databases.
Chief Justice John Roberts has blocked a ruling by Maryland’s highest court that barred the collection of genetic material from criminal suspects without a warrant on the basis that arrestees have a reasonable expectation of privacy.
David Kravets of Wired notes that while Maryland prosecutors had argued that the mouth swab was no more intrusive than fingerprinting, the court countered that DNA samples are a “vast genetic treasure map” that provide much more information than basic identification.
In the case at hand, Alonzo King was linked to an unsolved 2003 rape conviction by a DNA sample he gave when arrested in 2009 on assault charges. He was convicted of the sex crime, but the Maryland Court of Appeals reversed on the basis that his Fourth Amendment rights were breached.
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