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posted by martyb on Wednesday January 22 2020, @03:28PM   Printer-friendly
from the 60%-likely-is-40%-unlikely dept.


How similar do you think you are to your second cousin? Or your estranged great aunt?

Would you like to have people assess your behaviour from what your great aunt has done? How would you feel if courts used data gained from them to decide how you are likely to behave in the future?

Scientists are making connections between a person's DNA and their tendencies for certain kinds of behaviour. At the same time, commercial DNA databases are becoming more common and police are gaining access to them.

When these trends combine, genetic data inferred about offenders from their relatives might one day be used by courts to determine sentences. In the future, the data from your great aunt could be used by a court to determine how severely you are punished for a crime.

[...] A Florida judge recently approved a warrant to search a genetic genealogy , GED Match. This American company has approximately 1.3 million users who have uploaded their personal genetic data, with the assumption of privacy, in the hope of discovering their family tree.

The court directly overruled these users' request for privacy and now the company is obliged to hand over the data.

[...] This might be used by the prosecution to make the case for a longer sentence. In some jurisdictions and circumstances, the prosecution may have a means of obtaining a sample of DNA directly from the offender. But where this is not legally possible without the offender's consent, the inference from relatives might fill a gap in the prosecution's case about how dangerous the offender is.

Your ability to be granted bail may hinge on your genes.

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  • (Score: 2) by hemocyanin on Wednesday January 22 2020, @06:08PM (2 children)

    by hemocyanin (186) on Wednesday January 22 2020, @06:08PM (#946917) Journal

    There are gazillions of crimes in America for which intent is irrelevant. []

    Starting Score:    1  point
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    Total Score:   2  
  • (Score: 2) by ikanreed on Wednesday January 22 2020, @07:07PM (1 child)

    by ikanreed (3164) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 22 2020, @07:07PM (#946956) Journal

    You're confusing "intent to break the law" with "doing something you know risks breaking the law, recklessly". The latter has always been prosecutable. Mens rea isn't restricted to "purposeful" merely "willful". See: killing someone while drunk driving(which by the way, was part of the reason Usner was alleged to have been acting recklessly; your article didn't mention that)

    It's just like the example I gave, pulling trigger on a revolver with just one round, and arguing you didn't intend to commit murder. Your intentions matter inasmuch as they can construct a case where you intended to do the right thing and avoid breaking the law to the best of your abilities. It's really the same deal as entrapment, if all that happened is you got talked into doing something illegal, you were willing to do something illegal. Whereas if you were coerced into doing something illegal by lawful order(i.e. you know a cop is telling you to do it), then you're entrapped.

    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by hemocyanin on Wednesday January 22 2020, @09:54PM

      by hemocyanin (186) on Wednesday January 22 2020, @09:54PM (#947035) Journal

      doing something you know risks breaking the law, recklessly

      There are so many laws even the ABA can't count them due to the way we have statutes and agency rules interpreting them. Your view of the legal system in the US is not consonant with reality. Breaking the law -- not just infractions, but actual felonies -- is probably a daily occurrence for most people as a result of the vast number of laws for which intent is not an issue: []

      See also: []

      I just realized that I've committed the Federal Crime of writing a check for less than a dollar, as has the State in which I live also violated that Federal law -- I once got a check for 7cents from the state: []

      Whoever makes, issues, circulates, or pays out any note, check, memorandum, token, or other obligation for a less sum than $1, intended to circulate as money or to be received or used in lieu of lawful money of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.