California Supreme Court Upholds Controversial Law Allowing DNA Collection Upon Felony Arrest

In a blow to privacy advocates, the California Supreme Court decided 4-3 Monday that the state may continue to take DNA from people arrested for a felony crime.

The ruling upheld a provision in Proposition 69, approved by voters in 2004, that said any adult arrested or charged with a felony must consent to have his or her cheek swabbed for DNA.

Even if the arrestee were ultimately not charged or acquitted, the ballot measure required that the DNA profile would remain in the state’s offender database unless the person applied to have it expunged and a court approved the removal.

A majority of states collect DNA from some arrestees, and the U.S. Supreme Court has approved the practice. Privacy advocates, though, argued that California’s law was more extensive and invasive than DNA rules in other states.

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