In Utah, while DNA samples may be taken at the time of arrest, the DNA itself is not processed until after a conviction. If charges are not pressed within 90 days of an arrest, or the case is dismissed or acquitted, the DNA evidence is destroyed. However, with other states enacting more stringent rules regarding when DNA is collected and how it is used, the U.S. Supreme Court is now looking at the constitutionality of collecting DNA from those not convicted. This could end up having an impact in Utah.
DNA is typically collected either from evidence left behind at a crime scene, when a person is arrested or when someone is convicted. In some states — even when the person is still innocent — the DNA is put into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS). This database is used by local, state and federal law enforcement.
At hand for the U.S. Supreme Court is whether taking DNA samples from a person who is yet to have their day in court goes against the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonablesearches and seizures.
Like everything, there are two sides to this case. Some believe the positives outweigh the negatives and that collecting DNA at the time of arrest can help solve cold cases. Others also point to the fact that DNA collection can lead to exoneration.
However, on the flip side of this is the fact that collecting DNA evidence in a country where people are innocent until proven guilty can be viewed by some as a direct violation of their Fourth Amendment constitutional rights.
In terms of how this could end up affecting Utah, depending on the ruling of the court, if states continue to adopt these stricter policies, it would not be too far-fetched for lawmakers in Utah to start thinking about whether the DNA collection laws need to be updated.
But, what do you think? Should DNA be collected anytime there is an arrest in Utah? Should this data be destroyed if the person is found not guilty? Is collecting and keeping this data a violation of the Fourth Amendment?
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