Should Cops Swipe DNA Without a Warrant?

Lawyers say it violates privacy rights; cops say they're catching crooks
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 3, 2008 1:33 PM CDT
DNA analysis is a powerful law enforcement tool, but how private is our DNA?   (KRT Photos)
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(Newser) – Police didn’t need a search warrant to get a DNA sample from now-convicted murderer Altemio Sanchez—they just waited until he left a restaurant and confiscated his glass. That kind of sneaky DNA collection is going on across the country, and defense lawyers don’t like it, the New York Times reports. “The law cannot tolerate such back-door methods,” said one lawyer.

Critics argue that cops should need some kind of warrant to grab such seemingly private data. “Police can take a DNA sample from anyone, anytime, for any reason without raising oversight by any court,” said one law professor. “I don’t think a lot of people realize that.” But Washington State’s Supreme Court recently ruled that discarded DNA evidence was no different than fingerprints.