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

15 Pages Posted: 21 Sep 2012 Last revised: 15 Dec 2015

Jonathan F. Will

Mississippi College - School of Law

Date Written: 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.

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

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; Mississippi College School of Law Research Paper. Available at SSRN:

Jonathan F. Will (Contact Author)

Mississippi College - School of Law ( email )

151 East Griffith Street
Jackson, MS 39201
United States
601.925.7195 (Phone)


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