California court deems DNA collection from arrestees unconstitutional

Biopolitical Times | August 18, 2011

By Emily Stehr

California appellate judges decided earlier this month in People v. Buza that a voter-approved state law requiring police to collect DNA samples from adults arrested, though not convicted, for felony offenses is unconstitutional. Justices agreed that forcing arrestees to give up DNA samples, which are subsequently stored and searchable in a state criminal database, constitutes warrantless search in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

The decision distinguishes between DNA collection upon arrest and post-conviction, noting that while convicted felons have “severely constricted expectations of privacy relative to the general citizenry,” the same is not true for those who have not yet had their day in court.

But not everyone seems to agree — either in the courts, in state legislatures, or on the streets. Two federal cases, US v. Pool and Brown v. Haskell, have ruled to uphold arrestee DNA collection laws.

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