The Fourth Amendment of America

The Fourth Amendment prohibits the police and other government agents from interfering with a person's right to privacy, performing searches without a warrant, and seizing property without first establishing probable cause that the person being searched has committed a crime. However, the court's decision in Maryland v. King noted that taking a person's DNA without a warrant is not a violation of the Fourth Amendment. (Silk, 2015). The government officials must balance the government's interest in obtaining the DNA with the degree to which such actions violate peoples' right to privacy, even though the court clarified that collecting DNA does not violate the privacy of suspected persons.The Patriot Act amended the Federal Rules on how criminal procedures relating searches should be conducted. For instance, the new provision allowing officers to perform searches without notifying the subjects. The provisions authorize the government to intrude into people’s residents and conduct searches and seizures even if the occupants are away provided that the search warrants are issued (Lipman, 2017). Although the Fourth Amendment protects the rights of the subjects during warranted searches and seizures, officers tend to exceed the limits contained in the search warrants and sometimes conduct unsupervised discretion over searches thereby limiting the rights and freedom of the property owners or subjects.

According to Joh (2013), the court ruling on Maryland v. King will affect all the branches of the criminal justice system and how the collection of evidence against suspects are conducted. Practices like swabbing of the arrested person’s cheek for DNA collection, although constitutes physical invasiveness, will be treated a non-violation of human rights as spelled out in the Bills of Rights. Moreover, physical intrusion will be treated as lawful as long as a warrant for searches and seizures are issued.


Joh, E. E. (2013). Maryland v. King: Policing and Genetic Privacy. Ohio St. J. Crim. L., 11, 281.

Lipman, R. E. (2017). Protecting Privacy with Fourth Amendment Use Restrictions.

Silk, J. V. (2015). Calling Out Maryland v. King: DNA, Cell Phones, and the Fourth Amendment.

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