The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday agreed to decide whether police can collect DNA samples without a warrant from suspects arrested for serious crimes.

The case pits privacy rights against public safety, report the Wall Street Journal Law Blog, the Los Angeles Times and the Associated Press. At issue is whether DNA collected without a warrant before conviction is a Fourth Amendment violation. SCOTUSblog has links to documents in the case, including the cert petition (PDF).

The case involves Alonzo King Jr., who was linked to a 2003 rape after he was arrested and swabbed for DNA as a result of a 2009 assault arrest, the Law Blog says. King was convicted of the rape and sentenced to life in prison.

Maryland’s top court overturned the conviction, saying there was no need to collect the DNA because police were confident they had the right man when they arrested King, the Law Blog says. DNA is different than traditional fingerprinting, the Mayland Court of Appeals said, because it offers a "vast genetic treasure map."

All 50 states collect genetic material from people convicted of felonies. Twenty-seven states allow DNA collection from arrestees who haven’t been convicted, according to AP.

The case is Maryland v. King.

Adam Lee Nemann
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Trial and Defense Attorney, Adjunct Professor of Law at Capital University, founder of Nemann Law Offices
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