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Supreme Court decision on DNA collection clears way for PA law

June 5, 2013

HARRISBURG, PA — Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi announced on June 3 that he expects his Senate Bill 150 to be scheduled for a vote in the senate in the near future. Senate Bill 150 would modernize and strengthen Pennsylvania’s DNA collection law in several ways, including requiring individuals arrested for serious crimes to submit DNA samples.

On June 3, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a five-to-four decision that it is permissible to collect DNA samples from individuals arrested for serious crimes.

“We know from the experience of other states that this kind of DNA collection will help solve violent crimes, and it will get violent serial offenders off the streets, literally saving lives,” Pileggi said. “In light of today’s decision, Pennsylvania should move quickly to enact Senate Bill 150.”

The court’s decision in Maryland v. King held that “when officers make an arrest supported by probable cause to hold for a serious offense and bring the suspect to the station to be detained in custody, taking and analyzing a cheek swab of the arrestee’s DNA is, like fingerprinting and photographing, a legitimate police booking procedure that is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment.”

Senate Bill 150 also authorizes a new type of DNA search to help identify suspects in unsolved crimes, strengthens privacy protections, and requires DNA laboratories and technicians to meet national standards.

“Pennsylvania can – and should – be taking better advantage of this powerful tool,” Senator Pileggi said.