While 26 states and the federal government currently allow law officials to collect DNA from persons at the time of their arrest, a recent Supreme Court decision may compel more states, including Washington, to adopt the practice. The court was divided 5-4 in favor of reinstating a Maryland man's conviction for a 2003 sexual assault case, which police were only able to solve by collecting and matching his DNA six years later after he was arrested on an unrelated and lesser charge. The criminal case was initially thrown out by Maryland's highest court on the basis that the state had violated the Fourth Amendment.
Justice Scalia voiced the loudest dissent, stating that the reasoning used by the majority would allow DNA to be taken from someone arrested for something as minor as a traffic offense. He went further to summarize his position starting with an invocation of the Fourth Amendment. 'The Fourth Amendment forbids searching a person for evidence of a crime when there is no basis for believing the person is guilty of the crime or is in possession of incriminating evidence," wrote Justice Scalia.
Another contention was that the DNA testing had little to do with identification and was rather a method of solving unresolved crimes. The accused Maryland man also argued that Maryland was trying to circumvent the requirement that a reason is required to conduct a search. The Obama administration took Maryland's side in the case, likening DNA collection to fingerprinting.
In this case, the meaning of the Fourth Amendment has come under dispute in addition to the definition of "unreasonable search." Should you or someone you know ever encounter a real or perceived violation of your constitutional rights, a skilled Washington criminal defense attorney may be able to show that your rights have been violated in order to potentially lower your charges or have them dismissed entirely.
Source: Bloomberg, "Routine DNA Testing After Arrest Upheld by Top U.S. Court", Greg Stohr, June 03, 2013