Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of DNA Testing After Arrests

By: Garin Flowers; Associated Press Email
By: Garin Flowers; Associated Press Email

By: Garin Flowers
June 4, 2013

Tallahassee, FL - The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that police can now swab for your DNA if you're taken into custody.

They made the 5-4 ruling Monday. It's one of the biggest search and seizure cases in recent history.

Before the decision, law enforcement had to have a signed warrant before it could take place.

We spoke with a local prosecutor on the court's decision.

"DNA isn't like a human witness in this instant. DNA doesn't have a memory, DNA isn't going to forget, DNA simply is what it is and it shows what it shows. DNA is some of the best evidence that we have," said John Hutchins, a prosecutor with the office of state attorney.

A spokesman with the Leon County Sheriff's Office says they already DNA test anyone arrested for major offenses without a warrant.

Associated Press Release

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A Supreme Court ruling that allows police to routinely take DNA samples from people they arrest is coming under fire from four dissenting justices and from the American Civil Liberties Union.

The court said taking a person's DNA through a cheek swab is just like taking fingerprints or a photo. The five-justice majority sees it as a legitimate police booking procedure.

But the four dissenting justices say the court is allowing a major change in police powers.

One of the four, Justice Antonin Scalia, wrote a sharply-worded dissent warning that the DNA of any individual can now be entered into a national database if that person is ever arrested -- "rightly or wrongly, and for whatever reason." He says it's a practice that will solve some additional crimes -- but Scalia says the same would be true if DNA were taken from every airplane passenger, or from every child starting public school.

The ACLU says today's ruling creates a "gaping new exception to the Fourth Amendment."

But the ruling is being praised by a group fighting rape and sexual abuse. The head of the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network says DNA has already played a role in nearly 200,000 investigations. Scott Berkowitz says it will "continue to be a detective's most valuable tool in solving rape cases."

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