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DNA swab of arrestee's cheek is a 'reasonable search,' Supreme Court finds (+video)

The ACLU says the Supreme Court ruling, which allows the DNA samples to be stored in a database for use in solving other crimes, creates a 'gaping new exception to the Fourth Amendment.'

Supreme Court says police can take DNA swab of arrestee's cheek
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The US Supreme Court ruled Monday that police may routinely force arrestees to provide a DNA sample that can later be used to solve other crimes without having to first obtain a search warrant.

In a 5-to-4 decision, the high court said that as long as authorities have probable cause supporting an initial arrest for a “serious” crime, the government may collect DNA from any arrestee, store it in a database, and use it to help solve other crimes.

Such a routine collection procedure is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment, the court said.

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Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy said a brief swab of a suspect’s cheek to collect the DNA sample was only a minor intrusion that would not offend an arrested suspect’s expectations of privacy.

In contrast, he said, the government has a significant interest in using DNA to positively identify the arrestee, including any violent history or propensity to flee during pre-trial custody.

“Upon these considerations the Court concludes that DNA identification of arrestees is a reasonable search that can be considered part of a routine booking procedure,” Justice Kennedy wrote.


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