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When can the police collect DNA samples?

On Behalf of | May 10, 2021 | Criminal Defense |

A significant debate in the criminal justice system at this time involves when law enforcement officials can constitutionally and lawfully collect DNA evidence. This debate is occurring in Maryland and across the United States.

Situations in which DNA collection is constitutional and lawful

There are a number of areas in which DNA collection already is deemed lawful. First and foremost, if a judge grants a warrant to collect DNA samples from a particular location, acquiring that evidence in this manner is constitutional and lawful.

If DNA is collected off of an item a suspect has thrown away, the collection of that evidence is also deemed constitutional and lawful. The US Supreme Court has long held that a person has no privacy interest in an item he or she has discarded.

Situations in which DNA collection is subject to debate

Organizations committed to preserving criminal defense alternatives found in the US Constitution and elsewhere have raised the alarm about DNA evidenced collected in the form of skin cells that naturally are shed from one place to another. Prosecutors and others across the country argue that this DNA evidence can be collected without a warrant.

Underpinning the argument is the contention that a person has no right to privacy to DNA naturally shed. The counterargument is that personal DNA information is highly sensitive and should be subject to the warrant requirement in situations such as this.

If you believe your constitutional rights have been violated in the collection of evidence by the police, you may have a valid criminal defense. A Maryland criminal defense lawyer could assist you in better understanding your constitutional and legal rights during a criminal investigation.