A California appellate court has upheld a controversial provision of a ballot measure that requires juvenile felons to provide DNA samples for inclusion in the state’s crime-solving database, reports the Sacramento Bee. That means the genetic profile of Calvin S., a 17-year-old who went joyriding in a car stolen from a Sacramento nail salon, could be sharing space in the databank with the likes of Richard Allen Davis, Scott Peterson, and Charles Manson.
The Sacramento-based 3rd District Court of Appeal issued its ruling last week in a case that challenged the juvenile-testing provision of Proposition 69. Approved by voters in 2004, the ballot measure required the collection of DNA samples from all adults and juveniles convicted of felonies. “This is the first (California) decision addressing the collection of DNA samples in juveniles,” said John Hargreaves, the attorney who filed the case. “It’s a highly evolving area of the law.” Courts have consistently upheld adult DNA-testing laws, saying the minimal privacy intrusions of DNA testing were outweighed by the crime-solving benefits. Hargreaves argued that juveniles, whose identities and records are protected in court, have a much greater expectation of privacy under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The court disagreed. “We find the intrusion into a juvenile felon’s Fourth Amendment interests, including his interest in the confidentiality of juvenile court proceedings, does not outweigh the legitimate government interest in DNA testing as an aid to law enforcement,” wrote Justice Harry Hull.