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Name: U.S. v. Pool
Case #: 09-10303
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 09/14/2010
Summary

The seizure of DNA as a condition for pretrial release does not violate the Fourth Amendment. After appellant’s arrest on a felony charge, he sought pretrial release. The prosecution requested that as a condition of release, appellant be required to provide a DNA sample for “identification.” Appellant objected to the condition arguing it was an unconstitutional search. The reviewing court recognized that DNA extraction qualifies as a search for Fourth Amendment purposes. (U.S. v. Kincade (9th Cir. 2004) 379 F.3d 813.) As such, the condition can only be upheld if it qualifies under an exception to the warrant requirement. The provision should be reviewed under the “totality of the circumstances” test which requires balancing the government’s interest against the privacy intrusion. But, as a prerequisite to the application of this test, a legitimate reason must exist for the individual to have less than a full panoply of rights. Here, the determination that there is probable cause to believe appellant committed a felony suffices. At this stage, a defendant has no right to hide his identity from the government. As far as balancing the government interest and the privacy intrusion, the government interest wins. Taking a DNA sample is minimally invasive from a physical standpoint. The same is true of the information gathered by the government since the DNA markers collected do not reveal genetic traits, such as physical and medical characteristics. On the other hand, the government interest is great because DNA evidence is the most accurate means of identification. The collection from a defendant being considered for pretrial release allows the government to ensure that he did not commit some other crime. Since the government interests outweigh the privacy intrusion, there is no Fourth Amendment violation.