3rd Cir: DNA Collection At Booking Reasonable; No Constitutional 4th Am Violation (U.S. v. Mitchell)

As arrestees have a diminished expectation of privacy in their identities, and DNA collection from arrestees serves important law enforcement interests, the Court conclude that such collection is reasonable and does not violate the Fourth Amendment. The Court applied a “totality of the circumstances” test, balancing the intrusion on Defendant Mitchell’s privacy against the Government’s interest in the collection and testing of his DNA. United States v. Knights, 534 U.S. 112, 118–19, 122 S.Ct. 587, 151 L.Ed.2d 497 (2001).

In support of the majority’s opinion, it reasons that the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly held that the “intrusion occasioned by a blood test is not significant, since such ‘tests are a commonplace in these days of periodic physical examinations and experience with them teaches that the quantity of blood extracted is minimal, and that for most people the procedure involves virtually no risk, trauma, or pain.’” Skinner v. Railway Labor Executives Association, 489 U.S. 602, 625 (quoting Scherber v. California, 384 U.S. 757, 771, 86 S.Ct. 1826, 16 L.Ed.2d 908 (1966)); accord United States of America v. Paul G. Sczubelek, 402 F.3d 175, 184 (“[T]he intrusion of a blood test is minimal.”). Moreover, “Schmerber recognized society’s judgment that blood tests do not constitute an unduly extensive imposition on an individual’s personal privacy and bodily integrity.” Winston v. Lee, 470 U.S. 753, 762, 105 S.Ct. 1611, 84 L.Ed.2d 662 (1985).

For full court opinion see: No. 09–4718. – United States v. Mitchell, No. 09-4718 or PDF format at Third Circuit’s United Stated v. Mitchell

Contrast with 1st District (California): Seizing arrestee’s DNA at booking under CA law violates 4th Amend; ignores presumption of innocence, prob. cause reqs, privacy rights. @Justia.com

See also: DNA ruling blocked, for now (7/18/12) Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., on Wednesday put on hold temporarily a Maryland state court ruling that barred police from collecting DNA samples from individuals they arrest, who have not yet been convicted.  The case is Maryland v. King.


About vinhsu

Center City Philadelphia General Practice Law Firm with emphasis on Criminal Defense, Family Law, Immigration, Real Property, and Wills/Trusts/ Estate Planning. Licensed in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
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