Copyright (c) 2014 Maryland Law Review
Maryland Law Review
COMMENT: MARYLAND v. KING: SACRIFICING THE FOURTH AMENDMENT TO BUILD UP THE DNA DATABASE
Maryland Law Review
73 Md. L. Rev. 667
Stephanie B. Noronha*
In Maryland v. King, 1 a sharply divided United States Supreme Court held that a Maryland law allowing warrantless collection of genetic information from people who have been arrested for, but not convicted of, serious crimes does not violate the Fourth Amendment's prohibition against unreasonable searches. 2 While the use of deoxyribonucleic acid ("DNA") evidence to convict or exonerate criminal defendants has increased steadily over the past few decades, 3 the Court's decision in King has grave implications for the collection of DNA from arrestees - people who are supposed to be presumed innocent. 4
Although DNA technology is undoubtedly a powerful crime fighting tool, 5 the King Court's assessment of the DNA collection of arrestees under the reasonableness balancing test 6 is a misguided judicial response to the immediate benefits of new technology, and it leaves room for government abuse. 7 Unlike searches of physical places and things, a search of someone's DNA is unique with respect to the physical intrusion necessary to effectuate the search 8 and the amount of data rendered by the search. 9 While DNA searches require limited physical invasion of the human body, they yield a considerable amount of aggregated data. 10 Thus, these types of searches are complex and require special consideration. The King Court, however, wrongly applied the reasonableness balancing test. 11 Instead, the Court should have relied on a line of cases that involves searching data on seized computers, which are more comparable to cases on collecting ...
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