Attorney David Chesley's Criminal Defense Blog

California DNA Collection Law For Felony Arrests Upheld

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Much to the dismay of various civil liberties advocates who have challenged the law, a five year old California law that permits the collection of DNA sample during a felony arrest is being upheld. The samples may be collected without a judge’s review over the matter and even if criminal charges are not pressed or there is no conviction. Many are concerned over this law intruding on people’s privacy.

In a similar case in Maryland, the U.S. supreme court ruled that the collection of DNA samples is no more intrusive then fingerprinting a suspect. The Department of Justice has documented that DNA samples have freed many people who were wrongly accused of crimes, even some who were facing death row. DNA samples have also resulted in thousands of hits in criminal cases, helping local law enforcement with investigations.

Maryland’s law only requires DNA sampling from those charged with serious offenses and after a judge finds probable cause. The California law ignores all that making it a much greater threat to public privacy.

In 2009, an ACLU lawsuit was brought on by plaintiffs who were required to submit DNA samples although they were never charged with a crime. Although the court has rejected the challenges so far there is room left for future court challenges on the practice, ACLU lawyers have indicated they plan to appear before a federal judge to argue about the protection of certain groups of people arrested for felonies.

Some Judges of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals believe that the matter should be closed instead of it being left open for future discussion.

Although currently anyone arrested for a Felony offense may be subject to DNA collections, California law does permit those who were arrested for a felony, but never charged with a felony to apply to have their DNA samples withdrawn from California’s database.

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