The United States Supreme Court, in last month’s decision of King v. Maryland, ruled that law enforcement has the right, and it is not a violation of the 4th Amendment to the US Constitution, to take a swab of DNA from a person arrested, without the necessity of first obtaining a search warrant from a judge. The court’s five justice majority said DNA testing was a legitimate police arrest procedure, no different than fingerprinting. “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,” Justice Kennedy wrote for the court’s five justice majority.
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,” Justice Scalia said in a dissent.
All states, including Florida, require DNA swabs upon a person convicted of a felony, and for such information to be placed in a national DNA database. Up until this ruling by our High Court, 28 states, and the federal government, have laws that allow for the taking of DNA swabs after arrest. But a Maryland court was one of the first to say that it was illegal for that state to take DNA at time of arrest, without approval from a judge, saying that a person had “a sufficiently weighty and reasonable expectation of privacy against warrantless, suspicionless searches.” The High Court’s decision now reverses that ruling, which will likely allow states to resume and expand its programs.
If you have been arrested for a criminal allegation, please give our office a call at 386.257.1222 to discuss your legal rights and how our firm can be of service to you.