The U.S. Supreme Court has been busy these past few weeks deciding cases regarding whether police need a warrant for certain bodily evidence. The Court recently decided it was unreasonable to perform a chemical test on an unwilling DUI suspect without a warrant. This week, the Supreme Court has ruled no warrant is needed to collect DNA evidence from arrestees.
The Chicago Tribune reported that Cook County Sheriff is wasting no time in implementing an Illinois law passed last year to begin taking DNA samples from serious offenders. This law was not in effect in light of the Supreme Court case pending at the time.
Supreme Court Decision
Maryland v. King was decided June 3, 2013. In King, the defendant was arrested in Maryland and subjected to the state’s own DNA collection law. His DNA evidence was added tot he state’s database and resulted in his being implicated in an unsolved rape case several years prior. The defendant challenged his subsequent conviction for rape all the way to the Maryland Supreme Court. That court decided that the DNA collection was an unreasonable search under the Fourth Amendment.
The state’s challenge to this ruling left the U.S. Supreme Court with the task of deciding whether the Fourth Amendment allows the States to collect and analyze DNA from those arrested for serious crimes. The Court found that this practice was not an unreasonable search because the taking of a DNA sample is not very invasive.
Under Illinois Law, certain offenders and suspects of certain crimes would be required to submit to DNA collection. Those subject to the law include already incarcerated in a state facility after 2002 that has not submitted a sample would have to provide one before being authorized for release, anyone sentenced to life or death in an Illinois facility, anyone required to register as a sex offender, as well as anyone arrested for the following crimes: first degree murder, home invasion, predatory criminal sexual assault of a child, aggravated criminal sexual assault, and criminal sexual assault.
The supposed purpose of this law is to build a DNA database of offenders to aid in the investigation of crime and to exonerate those wrongly accused. However, the trend to collect bodily evidence of this sort seems to have the opposite effect of assuming guilt before even being charged.
Among other arguments against this new pro-law enforcement trend is the invasion of privacy and permanent collection of intimate information by the government. Unlike fingerprint data, DNA reveals an awful lot about a person, like their medical history and heredity. Having a large database of this information not only subject arrestees to warrantless searches of their person, but puts the public at risk for revealing private information about themselves and their family.
Should you be subjected to this new law, contact a qualified Illinois Criminal Defense Attorney immediately to help you protect your rights.