Haskell v. Harris

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Constitutional Law
  • Date Filed: 02-23-2012
  • Case #: 10-15152
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Milan D. Smith for the Court; James Dale Todd, Senior District Judge for the U.S. District for Western Tennessee, sitting by designation; Circuit Judge Fletcher dissenting.
  • Full Text Opinion

California Penal Code statute requiring DNA samples to be taken from all felony arrestees does not violate the 4th Amendment to the United States Constitution given the diminished expectation of privacy in a felony arrestee and the compelling governmental interests in identification, solving crimes, preventing crimes, and exoneration.

Haskell filed a preliminary injunction based on constitutional grounds seeking to stop the enforcement of California Penal Code § 296(a)(2)(C), which requires law enforcement officers, without a warrant, to collect DNA samples from all adults arrested for felonies. The district court denied the injunction and Haskell appealed. The Ninth Circuit found that DNA extraction is a “search” for Fourth Amendment purposes. The Court applied the “totality of the circumstances” test to determine whether DNA extraction is reasonable. The Court found that a felony arrestee has a significantly diminished expectation of privacy and that DNA extraction is a minor inconvenience to felony arrestees. The Court also held that the use of the DNA information does not significantly intrude upon felony arrestees’ privacy. The Court found that the government has a compelling interest in identifying arrestees, solving past crimes, preventing future crimes, and exonerating the innocent. The Court held that given an arrestees’ diminished privacy interest, the de minimis physical intrusion, the limited nature of the use of the DNA, and law enforcements interests, the court found the California statute to be constitutional. AFFIRMED.

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