On January 25, 2010, the Supreme Court of California ruled 5-2 to authorize the use of "John Doe" arrest warrants, which replace an unknown suspect's name with his or her DNA profile as the unique identifier. Prosecutors used these warrants as a means of satisfying the statute of limitations in criminal cases. California law, which mirrors the language of the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution, holds that prosecution for an offense commences when an arrest warrant is issued which "names or describes the defendant with the same degree of particularity required for [a] complaint." Focusing on the point of particularity, the court held that DNA profiles describe the suspect sufficiently for identification.
Learn more about the use of DNA evidence from the JURIST news archive.
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