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Supreme Court Upholds DNA Collection of Arrestees

NCJ Number
Christopher Mallios, J.D.
Date Published
June 2013
3 pages
This paper explains the ruling and the impact of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Maryland v. King, 133 S.Ct. 1958 (June 3, 2013), which held that States may obtain and test DNA samples of defendants arrested for violent crimes.
This decision resolved conflicting holdings in State and Federal courts and clarified that this procedure does not violate the fourth amendment of the U.S. Constitution. It also sanctioned the expanded use of arrestee DNA profiles in order to solve cold cases in which there is DNA evidence that can prove the identity of a perpetrator. The King case involved a gunpoint burglary, rape, and robbery of a woman in Salisbury, MD, in 2003. The offender's DNA was collected on a vaginal swab. King was not identified as the offender until 2009, when he was arrested for assault in another Maryland county. As part of a routine booking procedure when suspects are arrested for serious offenses, police obtained King's DNA sample with a buccal swab. His DNA profile was uploaded into a statewide DNA database, and a match was made to the DNA in the 2003 case. Regarding the impact of the Court's decision, only 28 States and the Federal government currently have laws similar to the Maryland DNA Collection Act, which authorizes the collection of DNA from some or all arrestees. Policymakers in the remaining 22 States must now decide whether to amend their DNA collection laws to include arrestees. It also remains to be determined whether the "King" decision will be expanded to encompass persons arrested for misdemeanors and nonviolent offenses. 11 notes