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Placed under arrest? Court says your DNA is up for grabs

The U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling on June 3 that could affect anyone accused of a crime. If you've been arrested, it is likely you were fingerprinted and photographed. Now, the Supreme Court says the police can also grab a sample of your DNA.

The decision was hotly contested, and squeaked by on a 5-4 vote in the nation's highest court. Under the ruling, even arrestees who are ultimately cleared of charges could have their DNA collected and added to a national database.

In the majority of states and for federal law enforcement authorities, collecting DNA from individuals who are arrested is already standard practice. The collections process itself is relatively uninvasive: an officer takes a cheek swab as part of the booking process. But, DNA information is powerful in police hands.

Is it a breach of your privacy to collect a DNA sample and enter it in a national criminal database even if you are not convicted and the arrest is proven invalid? Four justices of the Supreme Court seemed to think so, and they strongly objected to the ruling. Yet, the slim majority of the court said it was permissible to take DNA samples as a booking procedure, and now anyone who is arrested could find themselves in a DNA database.

This ruling makes it especially important to protect yourself if you have been arrested or otherwise accused of a crime. In the information age, where DNA analysis is becoming a standard booking procedure even without a warrant, your privacy and even your freedom are at stake in any police encounter. Stand up for your rights with a strong legal defense.

Associated Press, Police can collect DNA from arrestees, court says, Jesse J. Holland, June 3, 2013

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