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Court: Police Can Take DNA Swabs From Arrestees

Alex Wong/Getty Images

WASHINGTON (AP) — A divided Supreme Court says police can legally take DNA without a warrant from those arrested in hopes of using it to solve old cases.

The justices, on a 5-4 vote, say taking DNA samples from people who have been arrested for various crimes, long before their guilt or innocence has been proven, does not violate the Constitution.

At least 28 states and the federal government now take DNA swabs after arrests. But a Maryland court said it was illegal for that state to take Alonzo King’s DNA without approval from a judge. That court said King had “a sufficiently weighty and reasonable expectation of privacy against warrantless, suspicionless searches.”

But Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the Supreme Court, called DNA cheek swabs “a legitimate police booking procedure” like fingerprinting or photographing.

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