Fourth Amendment/Expectation of Privacy
Maryland v. King. In 2009, King was arrested for first- and second-degree assault, for menacing a
group of people with a shotgun and was taken to the central booking facility in Wicomico County,
Maryland. During his booking, a buccal swab was taken from the inside of King’s cheek to gather a
DNA sample. The Maryland DNA Collection Act makes it routine procedure to take DNA samples
booking from persons arrested for felonies that are ‘‘violent crimes or attempts to commit violent
crimes and burglary or attempts to commit burglary.’’ Once the defendant is arraigned, the DNA
is processed and entered into a database. Upon analyzing the DNA taken from King, it was discov-
ered that it matched the DNA collected from the victim of a rape in 2003. King was subsequently
charged with that rape. At the rape trial, King filed a motion to suppress the DNA evidence taken at
his booking, claiming that the Maryland DNA Collection Act violated the Fourth Amendment. The
trial judge allowed the DNA evidence to be used against King. King was convicted of rape and
sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. On appeal, the Court of Appeals of
Maryland held that the collection of DNA samples from felony arrestees was an unlawful seizure,
as King had an expectation of privacy in his DNA. At the time of this ruling, both federal and state
courts had come to differing opinions on whether the Fourth Amendment prevents the collection and
analysis of DNA evidence taken from arrestees who had not yet been convicted of felony charges.
In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Court of Appeals of Maryland,
with Justice Kennedy writing the majority opinion. The Court held that it is constitutional to take
DNA samples from felony arrestees who are booked on serious charges because the collection and
analysis of DNA serves a legitimate government interest, that of accurately identifying arrestees.
Justice Kennedy argued that the accurate identification of arrestees ensures that the correct person
has been arrested and tried and can provide information on their criminal history to inform bail deci-
sions and correctional facilities to ensure the safety of the community, arrestee, other detainees, and
correctional staff. Justice Kennedy discussed the use of DNA collection and analysis for the purpose
of accurately identifying arrestees as comparable to the use of photographs and fingerprinting.
Justice Kennedy also argued that the buccal swab of the inside of an arrestee’s cheek does not intrude
upon their reasonable expectation of privacy considering this expectation is lowered once an indi-
vidual is arrested and detained. Furthermore, the buccal swab is minimally invasive and unlikely to
threaten the health or safety of the arrestee. Also, the DNA collection and analysis is performed
solely for identification purpose and does not provide any other private medical information about
the individual. Justice Kennedy concluded that the collection and analysis of DNA from arrestees
can be considered a routine booking procedure and reasonable search under the Fourth Amendment.
Justice Scalia dissented arguing that the justification put forth by the Court to allow the suspicionless
search and seizure of DNA from individuals for the purpose of accurately identifying arrestees,
‘‘taxes the credulity of the credulous.’’
Fourth Amendment/Probable Cause
Florida v. Harris. Clayton Harris was stopped by Officer Wheetley due to an expired license plate.
When Officer Wheetley approached Harris, he thought he seemed very nervous and saw an open
beer container in the cup holder. Officer Wheetley asked Harris for consent to search his vehicle,
and when Harris refused, the officer used a drug-sniffing dog, Aldo, to conduct a sniff test of the
area around the vehicle. During this test, Aldo signaled at the driver’s side door handle, indicating
that he smelled drugs there. Officer Wheetley then conducted a warrantless search of the vehicle.
During this search, Officer Wheetley failed to find any of the drugs Aldo was trained to alert to,
but he did discover multiple ingredients used to make methamphetamine, including 200 pseu-
doephedrine pills. Harris was subsequently charged with possessing pseudoephedrine for use in
546 Criminal Justice Review 38(4)