Genetic Information and Privacy Interests: The DNA Fingerprinting Act

7 Pages Posted: 8 Mar 2019

See all articles by Ronald J. Rychlak

Ronald J. Rychlak

University of Mississippi, School of Law; Ave Maria Law School

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: February 18, 2015


For several years, the federal government and most American states have had legislation regarding the collection of DNA, usually from convicted felons. These laws vary significantly from one state to another, but all states share their DNA information with a national database, the FBI Laboratory’s Combined DNA Index System (CODIS). In 2000, with the enactment of the DNA Analysis Backlog Elimination Act, authorities could compel individuals convicted of murder, manslaughter, sexual abuse, child abuse, kidnapping, robbery, burglary, or any attempt or conspiracy to commit these crimes, to submit a DNA sample. Federal, state, and local law enforcement could also input DNA samples to CODIS and compare them to samples collected elsewhere.

The match of crime scene DNA to an individual by comparison through a database is known as a “cold hit.” Such collection and use of DNA samples raises significant Fourth Amendment concerns. This paper argues that the benefits of collection and use of DNA evidence outweighs the risks associated with it and that the practice is constitutional.

Keywords: DNA, CODIS, Cold Hit

JEL Classification: K14

Suggested Citation

Rychlak, Ronald J., Genetic Information and Privacy Interests: The DNA Fingerprinting Act (February 18, 2015). Available at SSRN: or

Ronald J. Rychlak (Contact Author)

University of Mississippi, School of Law ( email )

Lamar Law Center
P.O. Box 1848
University, MS 38677
United States
662 915 6841 (Phone)
662 915 6842 (Fax)


Ave Maria Law School ( email )

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