San Jose Mercury News
March 20, 2014
Anyone arrested for a felony in California can now expect both an
unpleasant trip to jail and a demand for a sample of their precious DNA.
To the dismay of civil liberties advocates, a federal appeals court
on Thursday unanimously upheld California’s law allowing collection of
DNA samples from anyone arrested for a felony, citing a U.S. Supreme
Court ruling last year backing a similar Maryland law. A special
11-judge 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel rejected the American
Civil Liberties Union’s argument that California’s law is broader than
Maryland’s and poses a greater threat to privacy rights.
California’s controversial four-year-old law permits collection of
DNA from people at the point of felony arrest without review by a judge
and even if criminal charges are never pressed, raising concerns that it
intrudes on privacy rights for those arrestees who may never appear in a
courtroom. Maryland’s law permits collection only from those charged
with a serious felony, and after a judge finds probable cause they’ve
committed a crime.