Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Big Brother wants your DNA

"All persons are presumed to be innocent and no person may be convicted of an offense unless each element of the offense is proved beyond a reasonable doubt. The fact that a person has been arrested, confined, or indicted for, or otherwise charged with, the offense gives rise to no inference of guilt at the person's trial." -- Language in Harris County pattern criminal jury charge
No, the state should not be allowed to take a DNA sample from any person arrested for a criminal offense. The citizen accused is presumed to be innocent and if the state wishes to take a DNA sample, let them get a warrant and show probable cause.

Los federales and 20 states, including Louisiana, have enacted legislation mandating that DNA samples be taken from all persons arrested. Crime victims, law enforcement and investigators in Texas are pushing for similar legislation in the Lone Star State. The same folks who argue that the smaller the government, the better are pushing to expand the power of Big Brother to keep his thumb on you.

Everyday across this state men and women are released from the holds of the criminal (in)justice system via acquittal or dismissal. Those folks did nothing wrong, according to the law, yet there are those who are screaming that the state should have a sample of DNA to include in its database.
"...[O]ur courts upheld the law. Public safety trumped privacy rights." -- Pete Marone, head of Virginia's department of forensic science.
That statement alone should be enough to frighten the bejeebers out of anyone concerned about the Fourth Amendment. Our right to be free from unreasonable searches should not be subject to a balancing test between the interests of the state and the interests of the individual. Freedom is the essence of America and that means that sometimes the bad guy gets away. It's an unseemly reality; but put me on the side of allowing the guilty to go free rather than locking away one innocent man.

State Rep. Allen Vaught (D-Dallas) is an advocate of casting a wider net when it comes to procuring DNA samples from those charged with criminal offenses. When asked why Big Brother doesn't take more samples of arrestees he said it came down cost. That's right, folks, the only thing standing between the government and your right to privacy is the almighty dollar.

DNA databases, GPS monitoring devices and backdoor access to encrypted electronic communications are tools by which the government seeks to keep track of where you are, who you talk to and where you've been. They are tools by which the government seeks to do away with the legal presumption of innocence. After all, if you know where a person's been, who they've talked to and what they've talked about, there are no secrets left.


Thomas Hobbes said...

Not to suggest that you're a little tardy to the party, but do you have an opinion about Art.17.47, CCP, passed in 2001, that permits specimen submission as a condition of bail?

Houston DWI Attorney Paul B. Kennedy, said...

Thanks for the comment. The difference is the word "may" versus "shall." The proposed legislation would replace "may" with "shall."

As it stands, not too many magistrates are going to require a sample unless the arrestee is accused of one of the crimes enumerated in Section 411.1471(a)(2) of the Texas Government Code.