A federal appeals court will take a second look at a California law that requires police to collect DNA from people who are arrested on suspicion of felonies, regardless of whether they are convicted, says the Los Angeles Times. A majority of judges on the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals voted Wednesday to reconsider a split decision by a three-judge panel that had upheld the program in February. The court’s decision to ask an 11-judge panel to consider the case was a setback for prosecutors, who have defended the DNA collection as a vital crime-fighting tool.
Once a person is swabbed, his or her DNA profile is placed in a criminal database, where it can be compared with DNA profiles obtained from evidence left at crime scenes. Among those challenging the program were three protesters who were arrested but never convicted of a crime. Two of those challengers were released without being charged. California voters approved collecting DNA from felony arrestees in 2004, passing Proposition 69 by a wide margin. The state began taking DNA from people arrested on suspicion of felonies in 2009 but immediately faced litigation over whether the collection violated the constitutional rights of people to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures.