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Name: People v. Robinson
Case #: S158528
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 01/25/2010

For purposes of the statute of limitations, a felony prosecution commences with the issuance of an arrest warrant that describe the defendant with the same degree of particularity required for an indictment, complaint, or information, and particularity is satisfied by a description of the subject’s unique DNA profile. On August 25, 1994, the victim was raped but the identity of her assailant was unknown. A rape kit was prepared and in August 2000, a genetic profile of the unknown male suspect was generated. Prior to this date, appellant’s blood had been collected and his DNA was profiled with the profile entered into the Department of Justice data base. However, because appellant’s prior conviction was not one contemplated by the collection statute in existence at the time, the taking of his blood and subsequent DNA analysis was done in error. Four days before the six-year statute of limitations, applicable at the time, was to expire, a complaint and arrest warrant were filed against John Doe, describing him with the DNA profile from the rape kit. In September 2000, a cold hit resulted in a match of defendant’s profile from the state data base and the profile from the rape kit, and an amended arrest warrant was issued in appellant’s name. He was arrested on September 15. His blood was collected again and the new sample provided a positive match with the rape kit profile. In the superior court, appellant’s motion to suppress the blood sample and resulting DNA evidence was denied. With respect to the statute of limitations, Penal Code section 804 states that prosecution for an offense is commenced when an arrest warrant is issued, provided the warrant names or describes the defendant with the same degree of particularity required for an indictment, information, or complaint. Under the 4th Amendment and the California Constitution, no warrants shall issue unless upon probable cause and the warrant particularly describes the person to be seized. The actual name of the subject is not required if unknown, as long as he is described with reasonable certainty. Here, the Supreme Court held that the DNA genetic profile accompanying the John Doe warrant and complaint reasonably identified the subject sought.
The exclusionary rule is not a proper remedy for DNA evidence mistakenly collected. According to the evidence presented at the suppression motion in this case, following the felony offender DNA statute in 1999, there was great pressure on correctional staff to immediately implement a complex and confusing law, despite insufficient staff and inadequate training. The resulting errors were negligent rather than being deliberate, reckless, or systemic. In particular, when appellant’s blood was nonconsensually taken in 1999, the officer believed appellant had a qualifying offense. In Herring v. United States (2009) __ U.S. __ [129 S.Ct. 695], the exclusionary rule is triggered only when it will deter deliberate, reckless, or grossly negligent conduct, or in circumstances of recurring or systemic negligence. As such was not the case here, the errors in this case did not warrant the sanction of exclusion.