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U.S. Supreme Court Approves Taking DNA from Arrestees

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guards people from unwelcome and legally unjustified and seizures. A deeply divided U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that taking a cotton swab of an arrestee’s cheek to obtain a DNA sample is like fingerprinting and photographing, and not a violation of the Fourth Amendment.

Illinois already allowed post-arrest DNA testing in certain circumstances

Illinois law provides that persons convicted of certain crimes can be required to produce a DNA sample. If such persons were already in state prison after 2002 and did not previously provide a DNA sample, they would need to before being released. In addition, anyone sentenced to life in an Illinois prison would be subject to DNA collection.

In 2012, Illinois began forcing every registered sex offender and every person arrested for a violent or sex crime to give a DNA sample. The law requires a blood, saliva or tissue specimen to be given to the Illinois State Police within 14 days after the indictment or after the courts find probable cause for the arrest. The significance is that the DNA collection is required even though the arrestee has not been convicted of any crime.

Cook County welcomes the U.S. Supreme Court decision

In the case before the Supreme Court, a Maryland woman was raped and robbed in 2003, but no arrests were made. Six years later, a man was arrested and charged with an unrelated felony second-degree assault. Pursuant to Maryland law, police secured a DNA sample. It proved to match the DNA sample from the 2003 rape. The Defendant was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. The Maryland Court of Appeals held that the DNA sample taken after the arrest violated the Defendant’s right to privacy. In its landmark decision, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Maryland Court’s decision.

Cook County is already preparing new procedures to take DNA samples from inmates at county jails who did not have samples taken when arrested.

The Fourth Amendment

Civil libertarians decry the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision as a violation of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution. Justice Antonin Scalia says that the decision allows police to secure evidence of a crime without probable cause.

If you require legal assistance with respect to the defense of a criminal charge pending in Cook County, you should promptly contact a Cook County criminal lawyer.

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Paul Chatzky
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About Born in Havana, Cuba, Paul Chatzky is fluent in Spanish and English, enabling him to effectively represent a wider range of individuals and businesses. He is AV® Preeminent™ Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell®, and is listed among Illinois Super Lawyers, which is a reflection of his high ethical standards and exceptional legal knowledge. As…

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Deborah E. Chatzky
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About Prior to joining the firm as a paralegal, Debbie was employed by major banking institutions as a loan processor and as an executive secretary. Debbie was also employed as an administrative assistant for the Board of Jewish Education. Having majored in Sociology, Debbie graduated from the University of Florida in 1980. Debbie completed her…

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