The United States Supreme Court ruled today that police do not need to get warrants before taking a person’s DNA. The Court ruled 5-4 that police can continue to DNA samples from people that have been arrested with the need for a warrant. The Court likened the taking of a person’s DNA to fingerprinting or taking a booking photo.
Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority decision and said the taking of DNA is reasonable under the fourth amendment of the Constitution. The fourth amendment protects against unlawful search and seizure.
In the dissenting opinion the four Justices said that the Court was allowing an expansion of police powers. Justice Antonin Scalia dissented and said the persons DNA can now be taken for no reason and their DNA is forever placed into a database. Scalia was joined in his dissent by Justices Kagan, Sotomayor, and Ginsburg.
Twenty eight states and the United States Federal authorities currently take an arrestees DNA. Massachusetts requires that people convicted of felonies have their DNA placed into a database.
This decision does not mean that Massachusetts must change its policy. The US Supreme Court has allowed for the practice to be legal in states that allow it. In Massachusetts the Supreme Judicial Court may rule that Massachusetts law allows the person more rights and actually not allow law enforcement to collect DNA. In short, the states constitution can allow for more protections than the US Constitution not less.
Patrick Donovan is a former assistant District Attorney in Quincy Massachusetts. Attorney Donovan has practiced criminal law in Massachusetts handling felony and misdemeanor cases. Attorney Donovan has appeared in over fifty courts in Massachusetts and has tried many cases to verdict. Attorney Donovan is dedicated to being the best Massachusetts Criminal Attorney.