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Name: People v. Roberts
Case #: C081843
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 08/20/2021

California’s DNA Act did not violate defendant’s search and seizure rights or privacy rights under either the federal or state constitutions. A teenage girl’s murder went unsolved until defendant’s DNA was linked to certain items found at the scene. Defendant’s DNA had been collected after an unrelated felony arrest made more than a year after the murder. Although that arrest was supported by probable cause, he was not formally charged in that matter. Based primarily on the DNA evidence, a jury found defendant guilty of first degree murder. On appeal, defendant argued that the use of his DNA sample violated his federal and state constitutional rights against unreasonable search and seizure and his state constitutional right to privacy. Held: Affirmed. “DNA identification of arrestees is a reasonable search that can be considered part of a routine booking procedure. When officers make an arrest supported by probable cause to hold for a serious offense and they bring the suspect to the station to be detained in custody, taking and analyzing a cheek swab of the arrestee’s DNA is, like fingerprinting and photographing, a legitimate police booking procedure that is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment.” (Maryland v. King (2013) 569 U.S. 435, 465-466.) Defendant argued that the holding in King should not apply because King addressed a different DNA collection law that was more narrowly tailored and provided greater protection for privacy interests than California’s DNA law. The court disagreed, concluding that the governmental interests identified in King and discussed in People v. Buza (2018) 4 Cal.5th 658 apply to California’s DNA Act. Looking at the privacy side of the balance, there was no dispute that defendant’s arrest was supported by probable cause. Consequently, his expectation of privacy was diminished. The government interests clearly outweigh defendant’s privacy interests. The fact that defendant was not formally charged does not meaningfully alter the Fourth Amendment calculus. Further, even if defendant’s state constitutional rights were violated, the Truth-in-Evidence provision of Proposition 8 prohibits suppression of the DNA evidence in a criminal trial.