DNA Taken During Arrests Remains on File
Lakeland, FL (Law Firm Newswire) December 10, 2014 – Even if someone is arrested but not charged with or is ultimately acquitted of a crime, the accused’s DNA remains on file.
In 28 states, no warrant is required to take DNA samples from individuals arrested for certain serious crimes or for some misdemeanors. The law has been challenged by civil rights groups who claim it violates the Fourth Amendment, which addresses unreasonable search and seizure. As such, they allege that the law is unconstitutional.
In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a ruling stating that the police may, as a matter of routine, take DNA samples from individuals they have arrested for serious crimes for which they have not been convicted. According to the Supreme Court, cheek swabbing for DNA is similar in nature to taking mug shots and fingerprinting. As booking procedure, DNA collection is reasonable.
“There is no doubt that if someone is convicted of a serious crime, their DNA information is kept in federal and state crime databases. It is often used to search for possible associations with other crimes. However, many people are not aware that if they are arrested and released, or arrested, charged and acquitted, their DNA may still be collected and entered in those databases,” explained Thomas C. Grajek, a Lakeland criminal defense attorney.
In light of the Supreme Court’s ruling, it is likely that the remaining 22 states may adopt similar laws. If that happens, the FBI CODIS database, with 11 million samples currently on file, is bound to grow substantially.
The database is not used solely to prove guilt. It is also used to rule out an individuals’ presence at a crime scene and to reverse wrongful convictions. Incriminating statements, improper forensic science, eyewitness misidentification and unreliable informant information and testimony have resulted in numerous wrongful convictions over the years. DNA can clear any questions up right away.
Alonzo King’s case stands behind the landmark decision. King was arrested in 2009 for brandishing a gun at a crowd. When arrested, police collected a DNA sample and sent it to the FBI. It was discovered that King’s DNA matched an unsolved rape six years previously.
King was convicted of the rape. But the Maryland Court of Appeals, stating that there were no particular suspicions of this individual and no warrant that could justify taking a cheek swab, tossed the conviction out. On appeal, the U.S. Supreme Court restored the conviction.
“If you are arrested for a crime, reach out and contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. You will need one to navigate the system,” said Grajek.