Blogs » On the Docket » Justices to hear DNA testing debate


Watch any crime show and you'll see detectives cleverly offer whoever they're interrogating a drink. The law savvy politely (and, some, not-so-politely) decline, but others leave their DNA on the brim of a cup, ripe for analysis.

Supreme Court justices agreed on Friday to examine whether the Fourth Amendment permits DNA collection at the time of an arrest, according to the Christian Science Monitor.

The fourth amendment is "the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

The case came up after Maryland police officers swabbed Alonso King's cheek. King was arrested in 2009 for assault, but his DNA linked him to a rape and robbery from 2003.

Here's what some are saying, according to the National Institute of Justice:


This could turn into big brother. Innocent people could remain in DNA databanks revealing private information, such as if they have any genetic disorders. Some states don't automatically delete someone's DNA profile after they've been proven innocent. Louisiana requires someone submit a written request and a court order to have their record expunged.


DNA testing is a lot like lifting a finger print, which remains on file, in most cases, unless someone requests they be removed.

Strict crime labs only analyze the DNA as far as confirming someone's identity.

Texas is one of 22 states that allow for DNA collection at booking. It also makes the even more exclusive list that allows for DNA collection at arraignment.

It says those arrested for murder, sex crimes and burglary qualify for the test before conviction.

Here's a state-by-state comparison:

What do you think?

The Houston Chronicle also did a good story on this issue in 2010.