'Genetic Surveillance' - The Bogeyman Response to Familial DNA Investigations

34 Pages Posted: 8 May 2008 Last revised: 27 Feb 2014

See all articles by Jules Epstein

Jules Epstein

Widener University - Widener University School of Law

Date Written: August 26, 2009


Familial DNA investigations are the inevitable and controversial extension of DNA identification and databasing. A DNA sample extracted from probative crime scene evidence may be compared to the national database of offenders and found to nearly match a person's profile but with one or more differences, excluding that individual as the perpetrator but presenting the likelihood that the criminal might be a near relative. Investigation of those relatives, and securing their DNA samples, has raised cries of Fourth Amendment violations and the specter of "genetic surveillance." This Article examines this controversy from an innocence perspective, as familial DNA investigations can also clear the wrongly accused. After analyzing such investigations in light of Fourth Amendment precedent, it turns to debunking many of the objections and proposes a set of restrictions that will permit the use of this process while protecting individual rights.

Keywords: evidence, DNA, familial DNA, genetic testing, fourth amendment

JEL Classification: K14

Suggested Citation

Epstein, Jules, 'Genetic Surveillance' - The Bogeyman Response to Familial DNA Investigations (August 26, 2009). Journal of Law, Technology and Policy, Vol. 2009, no. 1, p. 141; Widener Law School Legal Studies Research Paper No. 08-47. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1129306 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1129306

Jules Epstein (Contact Author)

Widener University - Widener University School of Law ( email )

4601 Concord Pike
P.O. Box 7286
Wilmington, DE 19803-0474
United States

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