The United States Supreme Court today, in a sharply divided decision, said police can routinely take DNA
samples from people they arrest (before any charges are filed, trial,
or conviction). Fellow
McGeorge School of Lawgraduate Justice Anthony Kennedy equated a DNA buccal (cheek) swab to other
common jailhouse booking procedures.
“Taking and analyzing a cheek swab of the arrestee DNA is, like fingerprinting
and photographing, a legitimate booking procedure that is reasonable under
the Fourth Amendment,” Justice Kennedy wrote in the Court’s
5-4 majority opinion.
The four dissenting Justices, however, indicated this ruling was allowing
a major change in future police powers. Justice Antonin Scalia read his
dissenting opinion aloud in the courtroom warning, “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.”
The case the Supreme Court decided is
Maryland v. King, 569 U.S. ____ (2013). In 1999 Alonzo King was arrested for assault. At
that time when he was arrested a biological sample was taken from him
under a Maryland law allowing DNA to be collected from those arrested for
violent felonies and burglary. Four years later in 2003 Mr. King was convicted of rape
(unrelated to the assault) and was given a life sentence. During his rape
case Mr. King moved to suppress evidence against him – the DNA sample,
– on the grounds it was taken in violation of the Fourth Amendment
to the United States Constitution. A divided Maryland Court of Appeals
agreed with King, saying suspects under arrest enjoy a higher level of
privacy than a convicted felon. However, the high court today ruled in
favor of the state holding the Maryland law allowing DNA collection upon
arrest was not a Fourth Amendment violation.
You can read the entire Supreme Court decision by
In California, constitutional challenges to our own state’s DNA collection
program are still pending in the
California Supreme Court and the
U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals despite the recent
Maryland v. Kingdecision. California’s DNA arrest procedures, in effect since 2009,
are different from Maryland’s and allow a DNA sample to be taken
from anyone arrested for
any felony offense. California law also makes it difficult for someone to remove their DNA
profile from a criminal database if charges are dropped or if someone
is acquitted. For that reason some say the California DNA program is overly
broad and hope the appeals court will distinguish the California law and
limit its application.
Experienced DNA Profile Expungement Attorney Can Help!
The Law Offices of Evan E. Zelig, P.C. has helped many clients successfully
erase their DNA genetic profile from state and federal government DNA
databases. Under California law, if you were arrested for a felony offense,
your DNA biological sample was taken from you at the time of your arrest.
Following the DNA collection your genetic profile was then entered in
the to CAL-DNA database where it will remain, indefinitely. However, if
you were never charged with a felony offense or you were successful in
the case and found not guilty, you may be entitled to have your DNA profile
removed from the government databases forever.
Contact Sonoma County criminal defense attorney Evan E. Zelig today at (707) 636-3204 or toll free (888) ZELIG-LAW to start the expungement