Investigation Using DNA Without Court Consent

In the article, “Defense Lawyers Fight DNA samples Gained on Sly” written by Amy Harmon in the New York Times, investigators took a DNA sample from suspect (Rolando Gallego) without his consent. 

They did not have a court order so they used the process of “surreptitious sampling” as they watched him smoke a cigarette and then throw it away and then take a sample of his DNA from the cigarette. Investigators believed that he had killed his aunt 15 years ago and needed a DNA sample to solve the case. The defense team argued that investigators violated the fourth amendment which gives people protection against unreasonable search and seizure.

There are also arguments that everyday people shed sweat, skin, saliva, ect. Meaning that this is not a violation of the amendment but a loophole. Law enforcement officials are just trying to do their jobs and solve the crime. Albert E. Scherr, a professor who has a grant from the National Issues of Health, says that police should use “reasonable suspicion” or, do a little more investigating before they are allowed to secretly collect the DNA. During a similar case in 2007, investigators took the glass that Altemio Sanchez used at a restaurant, and used it for DNA sampling to prove that he raped and killed three women. Altermio Sanchez was convicted to a life sentence instead of being let free. Justice was served because of DNA surreptitious sampling. While surreptitious sampling may violate the fourth amendment, it should be legal if it is the only way, in some cases,  to serve justice to criminals. In the pictures below, scientists use DNA sampling.



2 thoughts on “Investigation Using DNA Without Court Consent

  1. I have read some articles about this case. DNA test is a very useful evidence in investigation. Investigation using DNA without consent brings problems before. The court judged those cases differently. It is also hard to judge if the investigator had only the way of DNA testing to serve justice. I wonder if surreptitious sampling should justify the reason of using DNA testing, which might violate fourth amendment of Constitution. This question is a long-term debate.

  2. I think in a case where a major crime can be solved than i think it is perfectly acceptable to collect DNA without the DNA owners knowledge. However, for minor instances, law enforcement should have been given or a warrant to be able to take evidence like that. Same if they were to have gone to his house looking for clues.

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