Can the Police Take Your DNA? | Maryland v. King

Can the Police Take Your DNA? | Maryland v. King

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Mr. Beat presents Supreme Court Briefs Salisbury, Maryland
April 10, 2009 Police arrest Alonzo King, Jr. for waving a gun at a group of people. They later find a 12-gauge shotgun in his car and charge him with assault. So you see, in Maryland there’s this law called the DNA Collection Act. It gives the police the authority to collect DNA samples and put them in a database prior to convicting the person. So back at the station, police get a sample of King’s DNA by swabbing the inside of his cheek, sending it to be analyzed and uploaded to the database. On August 4, the results came back, showing King’s DNA matched the DNA in an unsolved rape case from 2003. A grand jury said dude, we are indicting you for that, so King went on trial for the rape case. King was like, what? What does that have to do with the reason why I got arrested in the first place? He filed a motion to block the DNA evidence from being used in court for Wicomico County, saying his Fourth Amendment rights were broken because the DNA swab fell under unreasonable searches and seizures. The judge denied his motion, and King pleaded not guilty to the rape charge. The DNA sample was the only real evidence linking King to the rape. The trial court found him guilty, and he was sentenced to life in prison. However, King appealed to the Maryland Court of Appeals, who reversed the conviction, saying the DNA sampling went against the Fourth Amendment as King argued. They argued King’s right to privacy was more important than Maryland’s desire to use his DNA to identify him. And yet, they still said the DNA Collection Act was constitutional. Maryland appealed the ruling, asking the Supreme Court to look at the case, and they did on February 26, 2013. The main issue with this case was whether or not the Fourth Amendment allowed states to sample and analyze DNA from folks arrested but not convicted of serious crimes. The Court announced their decision on June 3rd. They sided with Maryland. It was 5-4, but it wasn’t your typical liberal-leaning vs. conservative-leaning decision. I mean, you had Antonin Scalia on the same team as Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, for crying out loud. Justice Anthony Kennedy gave the opinion, arguing the DNA swab test did NOT violate the Fourth Amendment because it served the safety of the state of Maryland, yet wasn’t too invasive where a warrant would be needed. The Court also argued that the DNA records were basically just an extension of other ways the police already kept databases of people they arrested to help solve future crimes, comparing it to things like fingerprinting. Justice Scalia wrote a passionate dissent, arguing the Fourth Amendment definitely prohibits the police from searching a person for evidence of a crime if it’s a completely different crime than the one the person was arrested for. Scalia argued sure, the DNA of arrested people helps the police solve more crimes, but they could also solve more crimes if they collected DNA anytime someone enrolled in public school or got a driver’s license, which was an absurd thing to consider. Maryland v. King is a recent decision that has big implications on those living in one of the 30 states where they can arrest you, force you to give a DNA sample, and then later charge you with a different crime based on the results of the DNA sample. Although not many Americans know about the case, it’s yet another example of how many argue the Fourth Amendment is consistently threatened as technology gets more and more advanced. I’ll see you for the next Supreme Court case, jury! Well that was Orwellian. What do you think about this decision? Let me know in the comments below. This Supreme Court case was suggested by my wonderful Patreon supporter Beau Branch. I’m so glad you suggested it, Beau! Thanks for all the kind words about this series- it’s never going away, so don’t worry. I’m taking next week off to celebrate Labor Day, and also because I’m overworked, so see you in two weeks. Peace, love and respect, I’m out.

73 thoughts on “Can the Police Take Your DNA? | Maryland v. King

  • Mr. Beat Post author

    Do you agree with the Supreme Court's decision?

  • eddfan999 Post author

    First, kind of.

  • Zachary Clark Post author

    I love Antonin Scalia. I wish that I could have just talked to him for a day. His dissents were always so epic.

  • Altan Acar Post author

    Love your supreme court briefs Mr. Beat. Keep up the good work! Cheers from Germany

  • Matheus Penteado Post author

    What? Alito and Scalia in opposite sides? Is this the real life?

  • Makem12 Post author

    It's clearly unconstitutional. I'd even argue that the fingerprint database for the nonconvicted is also unconstitutional. If you want to use either of them for another case, convict the person of a crime.

  • John S Post author

    Thanks, Bow Branch…

  • Gray Grumbler Post author

    IMO, one of the worst decisions ever.

  • Cpt.Flippy Birds Post author

    Big Brother always finds a way…… Have a great weekend, Mr Beat! W/no labor pains 😀 only bikini briefs and BBQ 🐦

  • Lalib Kanchanindu Post author

    Wondering about the golden gate killer case. They use dna data base from some genealogy dna website.

  • E Pluribus Unum Post author

    Hate to say it, but Antonin got one right.


  • Patrick Spoon Post author

    Terrible. I wonder what happens to a white guy in that spot. On the bright side, cases such as these can mobilize the public against this sort of judicial railroading.

  • The Rambunctious Reincarnation Of The Bear Guy Post author

    When you get famous remember me

  • Commander Video Post author

    Hello Mr beast

  • SBBwasaight Vuong Post author

    They didn't bring in the rape victim to try and identify him? DNA is a pretty solid case already but I'd feel better if there was confirmation by the victim.

  • Valter Östberg Post author

    Whoah, life in prison? That is an extremely harsh punishment. I mean yes, obviously we all understand that no one wants to appear sympathetic with a rapist, but still. Life imprisonment is really severe and should probably be reserved for equally severe crimes, which imo the accusation in this case was not. I can see why there might be overcrowding in american prisons if this case reflects the norm in rape charges.

  • CrankyPie04 Post author

    This was interesting, keep up the gud vids

  • Chris Nemec Post author

    This one is pretty gray in terms of where to stand. I kind of agree that it was a violation of the 4th amendment to use it in an unrelated case, but I really think the charges should have been combined and he tried for both charges at the same time.

  • George Rady Post author

    Pity the same considerations aren’t even relevant to the political Witch Hunt to take out Trump… basically the government and its media have thrown out ALL standards of “Rule of Law” and “Prosecutorial Overreach” and “Right to Privacy” (at least in making personal attacks and threatening charges… likely NEVER to be made in a court of law or would be struck down by any Supreme Court reading the “constituted limited powers of the Federal government and separation of its constituent branches)

    First, presenting a partisan document knowingly paid for and sourced from foreign government agents to obtain a FISA to erroneously declare Trump as “working as a foreign agent for a foreign government as an imminent threat to domestic security” – several times – first to spy on his campaign and all family, friends and mere associates (Manafort wasn’t even part of the campaign for more than the few months it took to get Trump through the nominating convention) and then to continue spying AFTER the campaign on the president elect.

    Second, unmasking American citizens caught up in this FISA surveillance – criminally prohibited when eves-dropping on a foreign national – as with the case of entrapment of General Kelly (who has still to be tried for an “intentional lie” or “misstatement”) but remains in “criminal” awaiting justice… first of any “crime” – when the only clear crime is that the public knew about it and many other things that were supposed to be protected from suspended constitutional rights under a FISA.

    Third, Mueller is not a “primary official” of the Justice Department – was never nominated and Approved by the Senate as required by the Appointments Clause of the constitution – and, as an “inferior official” he only had the limited scope of “investigating evidence of Russian interference (specifically) tied to the Trump campaign) EVERYTHING outside of the mandate can be thrown out by the Supreme Court and a charge could be made of “prosecutorial overreach” (not the first or even second time in his tarnished career… not to mention his close ties with Comey should have immediately disqualified him from his self extended accusations that “firing Comey is abstraction of Justice.”)

    Fourth, “collusion” is not a “crime” – Trump was never charged with a “crime” so all further investigations into his personal life aren’t even based on reasonable suspicion and all the nonsense since the Mueller team was forced admit they could find – NO – involvement on the part of the Trump campaign on the little they had found (however the Hillary campaign AND the FBI, we now know, DID pay real $$$ to foreign agents – colluding – to create a false document to obtain Federally law exemption (FISA) to spy on an American citizen using ALL powers and technology of the CIA, FBI and NSA awaiting investigation and prosecution.)

    Fifth, the charges brought against Russian Actors (individuals and Foreign companies accused of creating social media “bots”) have been challenged by at least two of the accused and Mueller refuses to bring them to trial. If Mueller does not have the evidence to convict and merely made charges he never intended to pursue – again – he opens himself up to prosecutorial overreach AND wrongly prosecution.

    Sixth, having not been charged with a crime and having no underlying criminal activity even being strongly evidenced, every conversation (whether taped or not) with ones attorney is protected under “attorney and client” privilege PERIOD. Mueller has already conceded that a “sitting president can not be indicted” so farming out the effort to entrap Trump into the charge of “misusing campaign funds” was already known by the Prosecutor of the Lower Circuit of Manhattan… no matter what was found by raiding the president’s lawyer’s office was not going to be usable against the president – but, like the case with the alleged Russia “bits” the intent never was to indict, just to use the law as a weapon to make Mueller’s case for Impeachment in anticipation of a change in the congress amenable to all this dereliction of law under the old Soviet secret police “point out the person, I will find the crime”

    Seventh, know by both prosecutors, there is no charge to be made regarding campaign funding law; 1.) Only funds exclusively made for the campaign can be considered are to be scrutinized (payments made in no disclosure agreements are perfectly legal and the reason may be as irrelevant as not wanted the wife to find out) 2.) Funds raised by the campaign can not be used for personal expenses (they weren’t) so, again, all of this is prosecutorial overreach to target an Individual with the full knowledge by the prosecution that no – crime – was committed and – even had there been – no indictment was possible… they have been merely abusing their prosecutorial powers for political purposes with no intention of ever testing their accusations in a court of law.

    So, it’s nice to see this case draw attention to the fact that we – as a society need to decide if DNA should be collected involuntarily to Help police prosecute future criminals activities – but, as we can see in this fiasco of Departments of the Federal Government – colluding – with one party to take out the leader of the other party (that makes Watergate look like a botched burglary) DO WE REALLY WANT TO GIVE THESE ROGUE GOVERNMENT AGENTS MORE POWER TO HUNT US DOWN AND PERSECUTE US FOR EVEN NONE CRIMINAL ACTIVITIES…

    Like daring to run for President when you are not part of the self entitled Elites who thrive on the powers of the State to tax away your income to benefit their lifestyles and privileges?

  • ricky99la Post author

    Great video. But not a fan of the decision.

  • Michael Hill Post author

    I know I'm not a Patreon(college makes that difficult) but can you do a brief on Kelo v New London, another one of the awful recent cases?

  • Carlo Post author

    Do Gregg v. Georgia next.

  • Stefan Milo Post author

    Man that's a thinker. Not sure how I feel about it.

  • JUNGLEsausage Post author

    I'm happy that I don't always disagree on what Scalia said.

  • Jupiter Kansas Post author

    I'd say my biggest concern in all this is convicting someone on DNA evidence alone.

  • felix fortinbras Post author

    I never thought I'd say this, but I agree with Scalia.

  • The Scrambler Post author

    To all the people saying "I can't believe I agree with Scalia"

    How would you feel if it was your daughter's rapist ?

  • Terry Weaver Post author

    More of your video's should include the cat.

  • Tom Pearse Post author

    I have to side with Scalia here, if forced swabbing when you haven't been convicted is constitutional then you could easily argue that searching your house, car or other property could be done without a warrant by the same logic

  • Peter Riis Post author

    As long as the DNA sample results in a unique pattern only – as is the pattern of a fingerprint unique, no privacy has been invaded. I side with Maryland.

  • the amazing Luigi Post author

    You my bain happy

  • EmperorTigerstar Post author

    I got I got loyalty straight royalty inside my D-N-A
    I got cocaine quarter piece, war and peace, inside my D-N-A
    I got conviction though, and jail time though, because of D-N-A

  • Josh Keating Post author

    I think it should require a conviction to get the DNA, since then I could be booked for something, the charges get dropped since they had nothing on me, but they still have my DNA.

  • Alsh Nevermore Post author

    Well this gotten dark…

  • c. j. macq Post author

    for all intents and purposes the politicians and courts have all but, Illegally, nullified the bill of rights. the state can pretty much do whatever it wants to do now and just claim its for public safety and national security. we now live in a police state! over the last 30 years the American elite have constantly reminded me of the Benjamin Franklin quote – “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” yet americans just don't seem concerned about the "essential liberty" they've been surrendering to the state. are americans ever going to WAKE UP?

  • Alex Morris Post author

    Do, 'National Socialist Party of America v. Village of Skokie'

  • ExcelIsFun Post author

    Great video. Thanks for your awesome videos : )

  • ABHISHEK SAMANTA Post author

    Interesting case (by the way, I love the brief case series more than any other. Please keep them coming).

    Here is my take on this: I would side with Maryland. How is it different from many other scenarios such as this: cops stopped someone for over-speeding, and then noticed a dead body in the back of the car. Then could they let that person go with a ticket for over-speeding ONLY, because they stopped you for over-speeding, but not a murder? No, right?

    Same thing is applicable here. The DNA sample collection was not forceful – but according to an existing law that the accused has already agreed to – until when it connected him with a crime. Right to privacy is absolutely a hallmark of a fair justice system, but a crime cannot be hidden under the cover of it. Remember, every constitutional right comes with a certain unsaid assumption: someone's rights do not violate another person's rights. If another person's rights are violated (I am sure that some of the rape victim's rights were violated during the rape) and there is an suspected connection between a person and the victim and the potential perpetrator's rights are coming on the way to the justice (i.e. to uncover the truth), then those rights should be (don't know why it is not stated yet in as a footnote of the constitution) suspended temporarily to find the truth – as long as that suspension is related to uncovering the truth only, and does not cause damage to the person any other way beyond the scope of that crime.

    In this case, there was a crime earlier, and the swab was taken for DNA record collection in relation to that crime. Later that record connected King to another crime. It is very different scenario than collecting DNA at the birth or at the DMV – where the personal data are collected without any connection to any crime.

    On a different note, even there were such scenario (that DMV collects the DNA sample for every applicant), I would support that data collection measure as long as it is not discriminatory (e.g. collecting the data only for certain races or religions etc.) – because it would help the law enforcement system to fight the violation of the rights of someone else. However, it should also come with an assumption that that record would be used only and only for the original purpose of crime prevention and detection, and not for any other purpose (e.g. if someone's DNA suggests that there is a high probability of epileptic seizure, then military cannot use THAT data to block someone from entering into army – because the data was collected for the prevention of crimes and identifying criminals ONLY – not any other purpose).

  • raymondluxuryacht86 Post author

    I'm' of two minds about this one. I can definitely see the logic behind the decision, but it still feels wrong to me.

  • tellthemborissentyou Post author

    Just another example of why it is stupid to have a 200 year old document that can strike down laws passed by the current generation of the people. Scalia was right of course, the Constitution says you can be secure in your person against unreasonable seizures. But my view is it is wrong to have limits placed on what laws can be passed by a democratically elected legislature especially when those limits were written by a bunch of slave owners. So they got the right outcome but for all the wrong reasons.

  • Zak Attack Post author

    Very interesting, especially omce we go into DNA modification of children prior to birth or even replacing limbs. Replacing your body parts can prevents this DNA rule to find old crimes on you if you dont have the body limbs to prove it, however, you still have thr same DNA. Who knows what we'll end yo having in the next 2 or 3 decades.

  • terry waller Post author

    Great idea, take a DNA sample at the drivers license office also take a sample at birth.

  • J03 MAN Post author

    Even something as simple as "Supreme Court and Surveillance: Maryland V. King" would help you to at least show up in more search results.

    I like your analysis but it saddens me to see you put all this effort into your videos but almost no effort in making your videos attractive to new viewers. This is YoutTube not an academic journal.

  • Tm35 Post author

    Fun fact Mr Beat and I have the same birthday

  • KhAnubis Post author

    I‘m kind of conflicted by the Supreme Court‘s decision on this. I agree that it’s fine to use DNA samples to solve crimes, but I don‘t like the idea of being convicted for a crime completely different from the cause of the arrest (especially if it happened a decade prior), but I guess I’ll let it slide, if it’s for the greater good. Also, heavily disagree with life-sentences in general, but that‘s another discussion.

  • Macjs Mj Post author

    My home State!

  • Beenmanland Post author

    To me the collection is fine, along with the long term storage. The real travesty IMO was that he was convicted of the rape with just the DNA evidence.

    Until the courts can reasonably understand that DNA evidence matching alone is not enough then people are going to be wrongfully convicted

  • e K Post author

    What are the other 30 states that do this law so I can make sure I don't live there?

  • SiVlog Post author

    In some ways, this reminds me of the circumstances of Timothy McVeigh was captured. He was originally captured, not because of the Oklahoma City Bombing, but because of a traffic offence occurred by him in his getaway car, the very same day. I've heard that it was only after matching descriptions of McVeigh by eyewitness to McVeigh himself that the evidence all came together. In fact, McVeigh was in jail at the time authorities realised that he was the man they were looking for

  • Davey Boy Post author

    I don't think it's right to use DNA as the ONLY evidence to convict someone. Don't mistakes happen in DNA testing? I guess that's kinda beside the point of whether it's right to take it without their consent. Police take your picture and fingerprints and if either of those match a crime you can be tried. Why is DNA different? Because it's more technologically advanced? I say use it to start an investigation but you have to have other evidence to proceed with a trial until it is 100 percent accurate. I do think it can still be used to exonerate someone, even if not 100 percent. Any doubt at all of guilt should favor the defendant.

  • jefflewis4 Post author

    I wonder if a rapist leaves DNA behind could it be seen as abandonment ?, similar to how they try to get suspects to drink out of a cup then use the DNA from the cup when they leave the cup ?

  • King Peppy Post author

    DNA tests aren't perfect but they are expensive and if you're relying on a public defender good luck on getting a second DNA test run to contradict the original findings. DNA swabs don't seem that far a reach outside of fingerprinting and other identification methods though but yeah while they may re-open a case as a new suspect hanging an entire case on a DNA test seems suspect.

  • I Post author

    we don’t have that in virginia

  • Mr Cheeser Post author

    do minnesota vs wisconson

  • ohla300 Post author

    I don't agree with the decision. Orwellian and totaliatarian.

  • Gabriel Moreira Post author

    Bolsonaro the next presidente of Brasil was stabbed today

  • allyourcode Post author

    I think the fact that this leads to convictions of totally unrelated crimes decisively makes such DNA collection "unreasonable search and seizure". When a warrant is issued, it is for a specific place to be searched, because there is reason to believe there is evidence there of a specific crime. For there to be no such suspicion in the case of "pre-emptive" DNA collection clearly makes it not meet the same standard that a warrant would have to meet. The fact that we can fairly call such DNA collection "pre-emptive" is already a giant red flag.

    Now, excuse me while I punch myself in the face for agreeing with Scalia.

  • Papyrus DMT Post author

    Plz, you need to run for president

  • general Fatboi Post author

    Mr Beat could you do a video on if dna evidence. Is reliable or not , i think it would be a perfect segway from this video thx , and good video as always

  • Sominboy27 Post author

    Just an idea, in light of the controversy in georgia over corporal punishment, i was wondering if you could do this case sometime also, do you have any experience in this topic as corporal punishment in schools is legal in both kansas and missouri

  • Aaron Yandell Post author

    So why would just side with a rapist?

  • ROGER2095 Post author

    In the 70's, there was a series of issue-oriented Caterpillar ads in National Geographic with the general headline, "There are no simple solutions, only intelligent choices." This DNA issue (like most of life) falls in that category. Each side has good points, but in the end, there has to be a decision.

    Who said life was easy?

  • caddlemen Post author

    Do Buckley vs Valeo

  • Tarah Guillot Post author

    Hey, could you do New Jersey v T.L.O.?

  • The Jommunist the jommunist&the Jommunist Post author

    Goldwater v. Carter
    Should be next for Supreme Court briefs

  • Sidd Cucumber Post author

    Could you cover United States v Nixon?

  • Sander Skovly Post author

    This is not just a major issue in USA, but in the world as a whole! I support King, so F

  • Goldfish I Post author

    I do not envy the justices in cases like these. DNA has exonorated the innocent and also made our streets safer. Every argument I come up with, I also easily refute so all i'm left with is that it doesn't feel right but we do not want law to be about feelings.

  • Jurij Fedorov Post author

    I don't see how it's different from fingerprints. Surely they should be allowed to take fingerprints and search for them in the system?

    The problem is when and how you take the fingerprints. And how you store the data and what you use it for. But searching for a criminal in a database is common practise and crucial for much police work. That's how many crimes are solved and how many criminals are caught.

  • number420pencil Post author

    I really like your videos! Thanks for making them.

  • John Henderson Post author

    That moment when Scalia got it right but Breyer doesn’t

  • BaconTheRabbit Post author

    Damn. My old high-school took my fingerprints for a smart lock on the school gate.

  • Jacob Barrett Post author

    As a conservative I’m very surprised at how the judges voted.

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