Cheeky Move? Supreme Court Rules in Favor of No-Warrant DNA Mouth Swab

Posted by Scot D. Goldberg | Jun 03, 2013 | 0 Comments

The Supreme Court has decided that police do not need a warrant in order to obtain a DNA swab from a criminal suspect's mouth after an arrest. In a 5-4 decision, the comparison was made to fingerprinting an arrestee, and the ruling came out in favor of what may mean far-reaching ramifications in the methods police are allowed to use after a person has been arrested.

The court majority wrote in their decision that taking a DNA swab of a suspect's mouth could be considered a “legitimate booking procedure that is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment”.

But four of the Justices, along with many privacy rights groups around the country, feel this move could open the floodgates of improper invasion of privacy issues. Opponents feel that law enforcement officials, while claiming a suspect's DNA would only be used in a arrestee's criminal prosecution, may use the person's biological makeup information for many purposes unrelated to the arrest.

The case involves a Maryland man convicted of a 2003 rape. The same man was re-arrested four years ago on an unrelated charge, and his DNA sample was automatically obtained then. That sample was then linked to the earlier sexual assault.

Justice Antonin Scalia didn't mince words when he expressed his disagreement with the ruling, saying the court's reasoning established a “terrifying principle”. He went on to state that the Fourth Amendment is in place to balance the legitimate interests of law enforcement against an individual's privacy rights. A major concern in the Justice's debate was whether the use of newly-developed DNA collection and testing technology, allowing identification to be completed in around 2 hours, would lead to errors by overworked testing lab technicians, sending an innocent person to jail.

No matter what side of the fence you're on, the Supreme Court's decision may bring with it wide-reaching implications when it comes to the definition of unlawful search and seizure, and any protection covered by the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution.


Photo Credit: Mark Fischer via:, cc

About the Author

Scot D. Goldberg

Scot Goldberg is a founding partner of the Goldberg Law Firm. See his attorney profile for more information.


There are no comments for this post. Be the first and Add your Comment below.

Leave a Comment


People who hire a good attorney greatly increase the chances of winning their case. If your personal legal situation has you wondering if you need a lawyer or not, give us a call at 239-461-5508. We can sit down with you, no charge, to talk about your situation, and help you make that decision. You may decide you could use our firm on your side.


We, at The Goldberg Law Firm, are dedicated to standing up for the rights and protection of victims of negligence and to seeing justice done. We will continue to direct our combined knowledge, determination, and drive to the limits for each and every one of our clients. The results are record-breaking jury verdicts, real relationships with our clients, and legislative breakthroughs.

Copyright © 2018 Goldberg Noone, LLC

The information contained on this website is for informational purposes only and is not, nor it is intended to be, a source of solicitation or legal advice. Use of this website does not create, nor does it establish an attorney/client relationship. Individuals should not rely on the information contained in this website when making decisions regarding legal matters, and should consult with a qualified attorney for legal advice. The hiring of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely upon advertisements. Before you decide, ask us to send you free written information about our qualifications and experience. We look forward to talking with you and reviewing related documents in order to come to a full understanding of what happened, how it occurred, and all those who may have been at fault.