Arizona Supreme Court Rules on Juvenile DNA Case

By now, most of us are familiar with law enforcement’s use of DNA when investigating crimes. Samples are taken from individuals suspected of committing certain criminal acts to see if they can be tied to a crime scene. Arizona collects these DNA samples, and then checks to see if there are any other crimes where the DNA was present. This could result in additional charges for defendants.

Recently, the Arizona Supreme Court issued a ruling that some in the criminal defense community may find interesting. The case concerned several juvenile defendants that had been arrested for committing various crimes. Once the individuals were arrested, they all had DNA samples taken, which were then processed and entered into the system.

The juveniles contested that the processing of the DNA samples was an invasion of privacy. The Court agreed, ruling that law enforcement had to wait to process the samples. If the offender was found to have not committed the crime, the sample was not to be processed. If the offender was subject to punishment or did not show up for the hearing, then the sample may be processed.

This decision could have an impact on cases involving adults as well. There are similar DNA collection laws in place that allow for samples to be taken after arrests of adults. While this decision did not address those rules, the door may be open for future challenges of samples tested before a conviction.

The long-term effects of this case could change the way that investigators pursue cases against individuals. Those suspected of crimes should know what options they have available for their specific situation.

Source: “Court: State can’t analyze DNA samples of juveniles not convicted” Howard Fischer, June 28, 2012.