Your DNA Can Now Be Used Against You In Court Without Your Consent
A recent refusal by the Supreme Court means that involuntary DNA collection isn't unconstitutional
In 2009, a Maryland county court convicted Glenn Raynor of rape, the verdict hinging on a key piece of evidence: Raynor’s DNA samples. However, Raynor didn’t give his DNA willingly. After he consistently refused to provide any samples to the police, officers snagged a few samples of Raynor’s sweat from a chair he had been sitting in during an interrogation session. The DNA matched DNA found at the crime scene, and the prosecution built their case around that fact, leading to a 100-year prison sentence.
Raynor appealed the decision, saying the DNA evidence shouldn’t have been used because it was collected without his consent. The appeal made it all the way up to the Supreme Court, which on Monday, the court announced that it would not hear the case. The Supreme Court did not comment on the denial—and to be fair, they get requests to hear a whole lot of cases every year and have to deny a majority of them—their refusal to hear the case means they stand with the lower court’s majority opinion:
Shedding DNA is an inevitable part of life. Skin cells, hair, and sweat all carry a person’s signature code, and they are left virtually everywhere you go. With this decision, now anything you leave behind can be used as evidence in a court of law—whether you know about it or not.
Byron L. Warnken, who submitted the writ to the Supreme Court on behalf of Raynor, said it’s important for the Supreme Court to define how emerging technology fits into the Fourth Amendment. Warnken said in a news release from February 3: “Rejecting a reasonable expectation of privacy in free citizens’ DNA will fundamentally alter the relationship between law enforcement and the general citizenry.”
[H/T Ars Technica]