Why Don’t the Police Need a Search Warrant to Take My Dna in Arizona?

We all know that in order for the police to search your home, they need to get a search warrant. That is, a court order signed by the judge that permits them to search the interior of your home and to look for evidence that shows that a crime was committed. On the other hand, a court order that is grounded in “probable cause”, as is the case with a search warrant, is NOT necessary for the police to obtain your DNA, fingerprints, or hair fibers.

In Arizona, police can obtain a court order for the taking of physical evidence and characteristics based on a lesser standard of proof. Police only need to show to a judge that there are “reasonable grounds” that your physical characteristics may aid in the investigation before police can, effectively, involuntarily detain you for three hours to obtain those physical characteristics.

When Could This Happen?

Oftentimes in sexual assault cases, a DNA standard or specimen is needed from a person who is a suspect or even someone who is just a person of interest in an investigation. Or maybe police need to get a handwriting sample from a person who may be implicated in a large fraud case. These are examples of scenarios when the police only need to show reasonable grounds to a judge in order to compel you to give your DNA, handwriting, or by another example, hair follicles.

Can Police Take My Blood Without a Search Warrant?

The key factor in police taking DNA, hair fibers or handwriting is that those processes are minimally invasive. On the other hand, when the police seek to take some one’s blood say, for example, as part of a manslaughter investigation, that requires a search warrant that is based upon probable cause. The distinction between the two is based on the invasiveness or intrusiveness of the collection process. While rubbing a glorified Q-tip on the inside of your cheek to get DNA is not probing or painful, the jamming of a needle by a police officer who may or may not be the best phlebotomist in the world, is a different story. For this reason, the taking of blood is viewed by courts as more serious and more intrusive and, thus, requires probable cause as opposed to reasonable grounds.

The Police Just Gave Me an Order to Take My Dna – What Do I Do?

The police that approached you with a court order, be it one to take your DNA or to take your blood, you are clearly being implicated in a criminal investigation and need to get the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. We have had dozens of clients approach us after they were contacted by the police so that we could assist them in finding out what their role was in the investigation and so that we could take appropriate steps to defend their rights and interests if it turns out that they were a suspect.

Indeed, police are using physical evidence orders more liberally these days, and not just in cases of sexual assault or serious major felonies. Police are taking advantage of the broad authority that they have to not only, effectively, arrest people for up to three hours, but to use that window of time to get them to submit to an interview with detectives so that they will somehow incriminate themselves, or at the very least, lock them into a story.

If you’ve been served a physical evidence order, the first order of business is to comply. The second order of business is to keep your mouth shut, not answer any questions, and immediately seek the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as you are released.

Contact us at (602) 663-9100 for a confidential consultation about how best to preserve your rights in Arizona if you have been served with a physical evidence order and think that you may be the subject of a criminal investigation.

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