A California appeals court decided unanimously that the state’s practice of taking DNA from people arrested for felonies — though not necessarily convicted or even charged — violates the state constitution, the Los Angeles Times reports. A three-judge panel struck down a portion of a 2004 law passed by voters permitting the state to take and store DNA profiles from people arrested for felonies. The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld a more limited Maryland law under the federal Constitution.
Yesterday’s ruling was based on the California Constitution, which specifically gives residents privacy rights. “The California DNA Act intrudes too quickly and too deeply into the privacy interests of arrestees,” Presiding Justice J. Anthony Kline wrote for the panel. “The fact that DNA is collected and analyzed immediately after arrest means that some of the arrestees subjected to collection will never be charged, much less convicted, of any crime.” In 2012, 62 percent of people arrested on suspicion of felonies in California were ultimately not convicted, and almost 20 percent were never even charged, the court said. Unlike Maryland, California does not require DNA profiles to be automatically expunged if a person is not convicted.