State Appeals Court Overturns DNA Collection Law

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August 5, 2011
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A state court of appeals invalidated Proposition 69, a 2004 initiative requiring law enforcement officers to collect DNA samples from anyone arrested for a felony, ruling that it violates the Fourth Amendment's protection against unreasonable searches and seizures,

Writing for a unanimous three-judge panel, Justice Anthony Klein stated, "There is no doubt that an extraordinary amount of private personal information can be extracted from the DNA samples and specimens seized by the police without a warrant, collected and indefinitely retained by the (state) Department of Justice."

The state court decision conflicts with a 2010 federal court ruling by U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer, who upheld the law. 

Although passed in 2004, Proposition 69 went into effect in 2009. DNA samples collected under the law are stored in a criminal database accessible to local, state, national, and international law enforcement agencies. Instead of being limited to serious, violent offenses, the law applies to victims of domestic violence who are arrested after defending themselves, people wrongfully arrested due to police misconduct, someone who has written a bad check, and people arrested during political demonstrations.

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