Supreme Court Allows DNA Swabs After Arrest

Big news from the Supreme Court today that is sure to be controversial:

The Supreme Court has ruled criminal suspects can be subjected to a police DNA test after arrest — before trial and conviction — a privacy-versus-public-safety dispute that could have wide-reaching implications in the rapidly evolving technology surrounding criminal procedure.


At issue in the ruling Monday was whether taking genetic samples from someone held without a warrant in criminal custody for “a serious offense” is an unconstitutional “search.”


A 5-4 majority of the court concluded it is legitimate, and upheld a state law.


“When officers make an arrest supported by probable cause to hold for a serious offense and they bring the suspect to the station to be detained in custody, taking and analyzing a cheek swab of the arrestee’s DNA is, like fingerprinting and photographing, a legitimate police booking procedure that is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment,” the majority wrote.

Tomorrow, the entire PFoL team will have a group blog post with each staff member giving their quick and dirty view of whether they agree or disagree with the decision and why.

Text of the full decision is here.