Collecting DNA is Ruled Unconstitutional in CA Court of Appeals

Aug 10, 2011

With the advancement of technology, there has been a controversy in the legal community surrounding the seizure of DNA samples from felony arrestees. California’s DNA Act was amended in 2004, enabling law enforcement officials to take DNA samples from any adult arrested for or charged with a felony. This act led to the recent case of People v. Buza, where Mark Buza was convicted of arson, but still argued that his mandatory cheek swab violated his Fourth Amendment right.
In Buza, the Court of Appeals argued that obtaining DNA samples were a violation of the felony arrestees Fourth Amendment right to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures. Justices Anthony Kline, James Lambden and James Richman sided with Buza, deeming DNA sampling unconstitutional. When compared to fingerprinting, Kline dismissed that argument and said they were obtained for “identification purposes and not to solve crimes.” Moreover, Kline stated in his opinion for Buza, “even if DNA testing of arrestees was demonstrably valuable to law enforcement, the effectiveness of a crime-fighting technology does not render it constitutional.”

The First District Court of Appeals agreed with Buza and mandated it unconstitutional for DNA samples to be taken from felony arrestees.

-California Court of Appeals, 1st Appellate District, 2nd Div., August 4, 2011; A125542