The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that state law enforcement agencies collecting DNA samples from suspected offenders after arrest have not breached the suspect’s constitutional rights. The case related to Alonzo King’s conviction for a rape that took place in 2003 in Maryland. King was arrested in 2009 for assault with a shotgun, but the DNA sample he was required to provide under Maryland law helped police connect him with a previously unsolved rape.
King contested the rape conviction, arguing that the Maryland law requiring him to provide a DNA sample breached his Fourth amendment rights. The Fourth amendment protects against police searches without probable cause that the suspect has committed a crime. King asserted that the police had no probable cause for the unsolved rape to force him to submit to providing the DNA sample, but the 5–4 majority decision of the Supreme Court disagreed. The author of the majority opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy, compared taking a DNA sample after an arrest to taking fingerprints, as a method of confirming the identity of the arrested person.
Am I required to provide a DNA sample in North Carolina after arrest?
Under North Carolina criminal procedure laws, if you are arrested for certain serious felonies, such as murder, armed robbery or kidnapping, the arresting law enforcement officer is required to obtain a DNA sample from you at the time of your arrest, or when taking your fingerprints. If you were arrested without a warrant, you must first attend an initial hearing in which a magistrate determines whether the officer had probable cause to arrest you. If the magistrate rules that there was probable cause, you are then required to provide a DNA sample. The sample must be provided by cheek swab, unless a court orders it to be taken from a blood sample.
What happens to my DNA sample if I am acquitted or no charges are brought?
In certain circumstances, the State Bureau of Investigation is required to destroy a DNA sample that was obtained after your arrest and to remove the DNA record from the database:
If the charges are dismissed
If no charges are brought
If you are acquitted
If you are convicted only of a misdemeanor offense for which an arresting officer is not required to take a DNA sample
Posted in Criminal Defense | Tagged constitutional rights, DNA samples, Supreme Court decisions