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Friday, May 29, 2009

Federal court upholds pre-trial DNA collection
Andrew Morgan at 8:40 AM ET

[JURIST] A federal court on Thursday upheld the constitutionality [opinion, PDF] of mandatory DNA collection for all persons arrested or detained under federal authority. Judge Gregory Hollows of the US District Court for the Eastern District of California [official website] found that although the collection of DNA from those arrested on federal felony, sexual abuse, or violent crime charges does constitute a "search" within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment [text], a person arrested based on probable cause "has a diminished expectation of privacy in his own identity." Likening the use of DNA to fingerprinting and photographing, Hollows held that

after a judicial or grand jury determination of probable cause has been made for felony criminal charges against a defendant, no Fourth Amendment or other Constitutional violation is caused by a universal requirement that a charged defendant undergo a “swab test,” or blood test when necessary, for the purposes of DNA analysis to be used solely for criminal law enforcement, identification purposes.
The case arose when the defendant, Jerry Albert Pool, was released on bail following a child pornography arrest but refused to consent to a DNA sample. Pool challenged the constitutionality of the DNA Fingerprint Act of 2005 [42 USC § 14135 text], which made DNA collection mandatory for certain arrestees, and amendments to the Bail Reform Act [18 USC § 1342 text], which made DNA collection a condition of pre-trial release.

Federal agencies began collecting DNA samples [JURIST report] in April, although they had been authorized to do so since 2006. About 1.2 million additional people could be added to the FBI's Combined DNA Indexing System (CODIS) [official website; FBI backgrounder, PDF] every year under the expansion, although people who are not convicted can request the destruction [Washington Post report] of their DNA samples. In November 2007, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled [JURIST report] that all convicted federal felons must provide DNA samples to a federal database available to police departments throughout the country. In 2005, the Third Circuit ruled [JURIST report] that a convicted bank robber had to submit DNA samples to CODIS.

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