Taking DNA samples should be limited

May 6, 2012

The May 2 editorial “A Md. Court’s war on modernity” missed the mark. The Fourth Amendment protects persons as much as it protects their papers, houses and effects, and a search for information as private as someone’s DNA profile deserves full protection against warrantless search and seizure. The Founders would be outraged.

Police do not need DNA samples taken upon arrest to fight crime. They already have the ability to go to a neutral magistrate and obtain a warrant to take a DNA sample from a suspect who they have probable cause to believe has committed a crime. Nothing in the court’s decision forbids a person from volunteering a DNA sample if he thinks it could prove his innocence. The public was shocked when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last month that suspects could be strip-searched upon arrest even for very minor crimes. This is no different. Citizens do not lose their constitutional rights simply because they’ve been arrested.

Lisa M. Wayne, Denver

The writer is president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

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