Forcing criminal suspects to provide a DNA sample on arrest does not violate constitutional protections against unreasonable searches and seizures, says a federal appeals court ruling reported by the Christian Science Monitor. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit ruled, 8 to 6, that a law authorizing the warrantless collection of DNA samples from every person entering the federal criminal justice system was “reasonable and does not violate the fourth Amendment.”
The majority said that “a DNA profile is used solely as an accurate, unique, identifying marker – in other words, as fingerprints for the 21st century.” Dissenting judges said forcing arrested suspects to surrender a DNA sample is a “severe” intrusion of privacy. In 2006, Congress expanded the DNA profile law to authorize the collection of DNA samples from arrestees and pretrial detainees. The question before the 3rd Circuit was whether an arrested suspect or pretrial detainee enjoys a higher expectation of privacy than a convicted criminal for purposes of DNA collection.