Howard Mintz
San Jose Mercury News
March 20, 2014

Anyone arrested for a felony in California can now expect both an unpleasant trip to jail and a demand for a sample of their precious DNA.

To the dismay of civil liberties advocates, a federal appeals court on Thursday unanimously upheld California’s law allowing collection of DNA samples from anyone arrested for a felony, citing a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year backing a similar Maryland law. A special 11-judge 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel rejected the American Civil Liberties Union’s argument that California’s law is broader than Maryland’s and poses a greater threat to privacy rights.

California’s controversial four-year-old law permits collection of DNA from people at the point of felony arrest without review by a judge and even if criminal charges are never pressed, raising concerns that it intrudes on privacy rights for those arrestees who may never appear in a courtroom. Maryland’s law permits collection only from those charged with a serious felony, and after a judge finds probable cause they’ve committed a crime.

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