A DNA Cheek Swab is Not an Illegal Search and Seizure

By November 5, 2014 March 11th, 2019 Illegal Searches and Seizures

In Maryland v King the United States Supreme Court determined that a defendant’s Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures are not violated by the taking of a DNA cheek swab as part of the booking process. King was arrested and booking and police used a cheek swab to take a DNA sample. As a result he was charged and convicted of an unrelated rape based upon the results of the forced DNA sampling. On appeal he argued that taking the DNA sample was invasive and against his consent. He therefore claimed that a warrant was needed to take the sample. The United States Supreme Court did not agree.

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The court noted that when determining whether a search is reasonable consideration must be given to the legitimate governmental interest involved against the degree that the search intrudes on a person’s privacy. In this case the Court decided that great weight must be given to both the significant governmental interest in identification of arrestees and the unmatched potential of DNA identification to serve that interest. The Court determined that the privacy intrusion was minimal and involved virtually no risk, trauma or pain.

The court ruled that taking a DNA cheek swab is no different than taking fingerprints or photographs, and therefore is a legitimate police booking procedure that is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment.

Attorneys Experienced with Illegal Search and Seizure Issues

The United States Supreme Court decides several criminal cases during each term of the court. It is important that criminal defense attorneys are aware of any changes in the criminal law and be prepared to use the changes to benefit the people they represent, or be able to protect clients from the changes. While many criminal defense lawyers are too afraid to vigorously pursue these issues, the attorneys at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. will fight for you!

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We are constantly reviewing new court decisions and regularly attend continuing legal education seminars to ensure we are always aware of the latest rulings that can be used to defend our clients. We are experienced, well respected and creative in using existing criminal law to help the people we represent. If you need help, or just have any questions regarding criminal law or illegal search and seizure, please contact the attorneys at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. at (248) 263-6800 or complete a Request for Assistance Form and one of our attorneys will contact you.

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