A new law went into effect July 1 that requires police to take a swab of your cheek to collect DNA when you are arrested for a felony. If a court finds police had probable cause to arrest you, police can then run a search of your DNA against a database of all crime scenes.
The basic effect of this new law is that if you are a suspect for one felony, you are then a suspect for all crimes committed. Police and prosecutors now have the power to conduct a warrantless search on a person for crimes they have no probable cause— or any reason at all — to believe that person committed.
The law is a mockery of the Constitution and an affront to the principles of privacy and liberty it espouses. Unfortunately, a slim majority of the U.S. Supreme Court doesn’t think so. In the Maryland v. King case decided last month, the Court decided that a similar law was constitutional. The majority opinion outrageously compared taking DNA, which contains all biological data on a person, to taking a fingerprint — that is used for “identification.”
The minority opinion, written by Justice Antonin Scalia, correctly points out that the DNA is, in fact, to be taken to search the suspect for other crimes, skipping the normal process that would require police to show probable cause in order to obtain a warrant to collect a sample from the suspect.
The law in Nevada is called “Brianna’s Law.” It is named after a girl who was murdered in Reno in 2008, under the unknowable pretense that it would have somehow kept her alive. It is unfortunate that the Nevada Legislature believed it was necessary to destroy every person’s right to privacy by passing this bill. Every senator, Republican and Democrat alike, voted for it. There were nine members of the Assembly with the bravery and sufficient concern for the privacy of their citizens to vote against it.
While, with the recent United States Supreme Court decision it seems unlikely the law will be repealed or overturned by a Court, it makes it much more important now to hire an effective Las Vegas criminal defense attorney as soon as possible after an arrest for a felony. If your lawyer can show there was no probable cause for the arrest, the DNA sample should be destroyed.
Similarly, if you are arrested for a felony, but the charge is reduced to a misdemeanor, a request can be made to destroy the evidence. For example, you are arrested for possession with intent to sell marijuana, a felony. Your Las Vegas marijuana defense lawyer could challenge evidence or negotiate down to a misdemeanor possession charge, and then move that the DNA sample be destroyed. Also, it is important that If you were arrested for a felony and the prosecution did not file charges that you notify the Nevada Criminal Repository to remove your name and your DNA from their database. Your Las Vegas Record Sealing Attorney will be able to assist you in getting your privacy back.