Bloomberg Law: Police Search of Rape Victims’ DNA Tests Meaning of Consent by Lydia Wheeler:
Rape victims agree to have their bodies invaded for a second time to help catch their assailant—not to make it easier for police to arrest them later in life.
The San Francisco Police Department’s crime lab, however, has been storing the DNA collected from victims of sexual assault in a private database and searching through it years later to do just that—identify them as possible suspects in unrelated investigations.
The practice, uncovered in a property crime case that San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin (D) has since dismissed, has raised questions about how DNA evidence is collected and stored, and when it can lawfully be searched without your consent. Though using a rape victim’s DNA in that way provoked outrage, it’s not necessarily an unlawful search and seizure under the Constitution, lawyers warn. The situation has brought new attention to what it means when victims give police consent to use their DNA to aid investigations, and some California lawmakers say the rules need to be updated to protect already vulnerable victims.