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Law: A Victim of Personal Integrity for the Safety Essay

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Updated: Feb 14th, 2022

Introduction

In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court was to resolve the conflict between the right of citizens to personal integrity, enshrined in the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and the use of modern technology in the investigation of crimes. In particular, it was proposed to investigate the case using DNA samples. The central issue in the current situation is to determine the admissibility of DNA samples from people arrested for a serious crime and their use in the investigation of other crimes.

The Issue in the Case

Science and technology have always sought to help the judicial process, and legislators have eagerly accepted the tools they offer to combat crime and bias in the process. However, the use of such methods is expected to raise the question of legitimacy (Lamparello, 2017). A critical issue is whether the courts can violate the constitutional rights of citizens for sentencing. The case of Maryland v. King 569 U.S.435, discussed in the first half of 2013, was a textbook example that examined this issue.

The Facts of the Case

Achievements of technological progress tested Alonzo King, who was arrested on suspicion of armed attack in the first and second degrees. Following King’s arrest in 2009, the suspect obtained a DNA sample from the inside of his cheek and was sentenced to four years in prison for the attack (Guest, 2019). The forensic analysis revealed that his DNA matched the genetic material in the rape case. As a result, King was also convicted of rape, for which he was sentenced to life imprisonment. The suspect believed that the DNA withdrawal procedure violated his right to integrity and appealed to the Court (Guest, 2019). The Court of Appeals overturned the first instance decision, finding that possession of the DNA sample violated the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution because his right to privacy outweighed the interests of the state.

Alonzo King believed that DNA testing required a court order and a specific reason for the analysis. In his opinion, there was no such need in the current court case. In addition, King believed that DNA data obtained in one situation could not be used to investigate other circumstances. DNA samples might as well have been collected from any groups of people who had previously been suspected of committing crimes. The defendant noted, however, that although his DNA profile contained limited information, the authorities could retain the original DNA sample with which various tests could be conducted. The State of Maryland appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court and, at the same time, asked to suspend the entry into force of the act of the Court of Appeal.

The Finding of the Court

The Supreme Court station did not stand up to defend the perpetrator. The Court overturned the appeal decision and found the DNA sampling lawful and not inconsistent with the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (Guest, 2019). Of course, this judge’s decision was risky, as a rather unpopular opinion incites debate. Colleagues of the U.S. Supreme Court judge did not accept his position, arguing that from this perspective, DNA samples could be used illegally when and where convenient (Guest, 2019). In the end, the verdict was handed down, and Maryland became among those states that recognize genetic testing as a forensic practice.

Despite the widespread discussion, the court case of Maryland v. King, 569 U.S.435, is not the first of its kind to uncover the issue of privacy. The question of the admissibility of judicial authorities’ interference with privacy through technical innovations has already been raised before the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of the United States v. King. Jones, 565 U.S. 400 (Lamparello, 2017). In those days, the authorities attached a GPS navigator to the car of the nightclub owner, Jones. The tracker helped to find out about Jones’ movements, and then the authorities located a large shipment of money and drugs. As a result, the man was sentenced to life in prison. Nevertheless, the case of the United States v. King. Jones came to the U.S. Court, which, by a majority vote, considered that such interference with privacy was unacceptable.

The Rationale of the Court for their Decision

The state and federal government’s position, in this case, was that DNA dactyloscopy was no different from fingerprinting or photography. In other words, taking a DNA sample is nothing special compared to the rest of the analysis. However, such data could better identify other suspects and determine whether they had committed additional crimes. For this reason, DNA testing does not contravene the right to integrity.

Author’s Opinion

Having examined in detail the case of Maryland v. King case, I concluded that it was not legal to take DNA for forensic analysis. Despite the prevalence of this method in the modern world, it violates the Fourth Amendment, which guarantees protection against unjustified searches and seizures. In the legal world, there is a rule that a suspect is innocent until proven otherwise. In other words, the task of the court is to establish guilt, but the suspect is innocent until proven guilty. The DNA sampling seizures do not correlate with and even contradict this fact.

Of course, in the modern world, forensic technology is improving with every new court case. One day, humanity will face the fact that genetic fingerprinting will be spread everywhere and for everyone. While agreeing with that, one should bear in mind the rights guaranteed by the Constitution. If there is a need to remove a DNA sample, an official order must be issued for it. Until then, the procedure is illegal, despite statements by individual judges.

References

Guest, C. (2018). DNA and law enforcement: How the use of open-source DNA databases violates privacy rights. American University Law Review, 68(3), 1015-1052.

Lamparello, A., & MacLean, C. E. (2017). Originalism and the criminal law: Vindicating justice Scalia’s jurisprudence and the Constitution. Akron Law Review, 50(2), 227-2.

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