DNA as Property: Implications on the Constitutionality of DNA Dragnets (Comment)

Jonathan F. Will

Mississippi College - School of Law


University of Pittsburgh Law Review, Vol. 65, p. 129, 2003

Law enforcement officials around the world have utilized DNA profiling to aid in their investigations for over fifteen years. While the use of genetic information may ensure that justice is served, civil rights may also be endangered by DNA profiling. For example, DNA dragnets involve the mass DNA sampling of individuals whom authorities have neither probable cause nor reasonable suspicion to believe perpetrated the crime in question. Unlike fingerprints used for identification purposes, an individual’s DNA contains a myriad of information about health and genetic identity that deserves increased protection.

This comment argues that when a state seeks to deprive a person of his or her DNA, greater constitutional protections than are currently afforded in the context of dragnets must be provided. After describing the unique characteristics of DNA and the history of DNA dragnets, this paper ultimately argues that DNA ought to be considered the property of the individual from whom it is sought to be removed. Recognition of property rights in such DNA implicates Due Process under the 14th Amendment, and makes clear that the process currently provided in DNA dragnets is constitutionally inadequate.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 15

Keywords: Law, Bioethics, Criminal, DNA, DNA Dragnets, Property, Search and Seizure

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Date posted: September 21, 2012 ; Last revised: September 25, 2012

Suggested Citation

Will, Jonathan F., DNA as Property: Implications on the Constitutionality of DNA Dragnets (Comment) (2003). University of Pittsburgh Law Review, Vol. 65, p. 129, 2003. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2149856

Contact Information

Jonathan F. Will (Contact Author)
Mississippi College - School of Law ( email )
151 East Griffith Street
Jackson, MS 39201
United States
601.925.7195 (Phone)
HOME PAGE: http://law.mc.edu/faculty-staff/faculty/will/
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