Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case that could have major repercussions for law enforcement officials who use DNA samples to help solve crimes.
The case to be heard involves a man in Maryland who was arrested on suspicion of second-degree assault. Police took a cheek swap of Alonzo King’s DNA at the time of his arrest, which was later found to match a DNA sample from a prior unrelated rape case.
King was convicted and sentenced to life for the rape, but he was never convicted for the second-degree assault. Instead, he reached a deal and pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault.
A Maryland court found the cheek swab violated King's rights because his crime – assault – did not warrant gathering DNA.
According to a report from The Associated Press, “If the justices rule for King, more than 1 million DNA profiles that have been stored in a federal database for matching with future crime scene evidence may have to be purged and others will never be collected, leading some repeat offenders to go free, advocates say.”
Currently, the court allows all 50 states and the federal government to take cheek swabs from convicted criminals to check against federal and state databanks, The Associated Press reported.
The FBI's Combined DNA Index System contains more than 10 million criminal profiles and 1.1 million arrestee profiles, according to reports.
But should the samples be taken from arrestees where DNA is not a factor -- such as King's original assault charge?
The Supreme Court is expected to weigh in with a final decision before summer.