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MN Supreme Court: convicted criminals may be forced to give DNA sample

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Last month, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that police may require those convicted of a crime to submit to a DNA sample without violating that person's constitutional right against an unreasonable search. The case came almost two years after a Minnesota Court of Appeals ruling upheld the DNA search.

Additionally, the court ruled in another case that requiring DNA of a juvenile charged with a felony does not violate any constitutional rights.

The first decision was based on the case of a man who was charged in September 2008 with felony domestic assault. Those charges were pleaded down to misdemeanor domestic assault, and he was placed on probation. However, he opposed a search for DNA via mouth-swabbing on the grounds that it invaded his privacy.

Minnesota currently has a database of DNA information which investigators can use to match samples collected at crime scenes.

The court noted in its decision that the DNA search was minimal when compared to the other conditions he promised to abide by. The court rejected his complaint that he would not have been subjected to a DNA search if he had initially been charged with a misdemeanor.

A dissenting opinion author by Justice Helen Meyer noted that the wealth of information contained in DNA made the search overly intrusive.

Sources did not provide the details of the juvenile case, which was apparently based on similar reasoning.

There is no question that the question of DNA searches will become more and more prominent in years to come, as technology continues to advance.

Source: MPR News, "Court: DNA search is not an invasion of privacy," Bob Collins, January 25, 2012.

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