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Serious Crimes & DNA Swabs

July 14, 2016 | Written by Dan Margolis

DNA has become an important tool for solving crimes in Cleveland, and for exonerating wrongfully accused people. In cases where people are arrested for a serious crime, they may find their DNA being taken by law enforcement, who then use it to check for a connection to other crimes. This is due to a recent decision issued by the U.S. Supreme Court, according to USA Today.

The U.S. Supreme Court recently determined that collection of DNA for those “arrested but not yet convicted of serious crimes” is considered reasonable rather than a violation of a person’s rights. The justices voted 5-4 to allow in favor of taking a cheek swab. In the statement from the justices, Justice Anthony Kennedy stated that taking a DNA sample can be classified as reasonable under the Fourth Amendment due to similarities between photographing and fingerprinting, measures already broadly used by law enforcement.

DNA is thought of as a modern fingerprint by many, making it easy to create a comparison to the two measures, according toNPR. However, it should be pointed out the ruling did not clarify the criteria for a serious offense. Whether or not a non-serious offense should likewise be covered was also not included in the ruling.

With the ruling, DNA can now be taken and placed into the national database even for those who were wrongly arrested. With the passing of the ruling, it is expected that the remaining states that do not utilize DNA will now implement similar standards, leading to a future of using DNA as a standard investigative tool.

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