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US Supreme Court Hears Arguments in Landmark DNA Case

The question before the US Supreme Court is “When is a DNA search lawful?”

US Supreme Court Justice Alito called it “Perhaps the most important criminal procedure case that this Court has heard in decades.”

The state argued that DNA testing at the time of arrest would help solve cold cases and serious violent crimes. In response, one Justice Scalia pointed out that the fact that a DNA test may be useful does not make it constitutional.

The US Supreme Court Justices recognized significant differences in privacy and sensitivity of one’s DNA over their fingerprints.

Other concerns included the potential for the DNA results to be used against a suspect to deny bail, lead to a total genetic work-up to evaluate their potential to commit a crime, and a denial of other civil rights such as the right to health insurance based on inherited traits.

Most states have laws related to when DNA searches can be conducted. A favorable verdict for the state, could result in the rewriting of laws in at least 29 states. It would allow for DNA testing of suspects following an arrest, rather than a conviction, with little or no restrictions.

Some states for example, Arizona, allow for DNA testing incidental to arrest for certain specified crimes under A.R.S. 13-610, such as arrests for violent, and dangerous felony offenses against a victim, not yet convicted.

Currently in Arizona under A.R.S. 13-610, DNA may be collected from a suspect if they were arrested for violent and dangerous felony offenses against a victim, as specified by law, under the conditions of arrest, even if they were not yet convicted or incarcerated in prison.

Any DNA searches conducted by law enforcement officials in Arizona in cases not specified by the law, not those convicted of crimes or imprisoned, are unconstitutional. A favorable ruling by the US Supreme Court on behalf of the state could have an impact on Arizona’s current laws.

If a Judge rules that a “search and seizure” was unlawful and violated the defendant’s Constitutional Rights, evidence obtained by the unlawful search, may be suppressed.

Suppression of the State Prosecution’s material evidence against a defendant often leads to a dismissal of charges.

Tempe Criminal Defense Attorney

If you have been arrested for any crime, you should always consult an experienced criminal defense attorney. There may be defenses you are not aware of that may be used to combat your charges, especially if your constitutional rights were violated as in the case of unlawful searches and seizures. If retained, your attorney will defend your charges, and protect your rights. If your rights were violated, an experienced defense attorney will move to suppress any evidence obtained in the unlawful search.

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