United States v. Kriesel

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Procedure
  • Date Filed: 06-28-2013
  • Case #: 11-30197
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Schroeder for the Court; Circuit Judge M. Smith, Jr.; Dissent by Circuit Judge Reinhardt
  • Full Text Opinion

Under Fed. R. Crim. P. 41(g), the government’s retention of a criminal defendant’s DNA sample is “reasonable under all circumstances” in that the government has a legitimate interest in maintaining an accurate and trustworthy searchable DNA database that links undefined DNA samples to known offenders.

Thomas Kriesel pled guilty to drug conspiracy charges and was sentenced to both jail time and supervised release. As part of his supervised release, Kriesel was ordered to provide a DNA sample. Additionally, his DNA profile was entered into the government’s Combined DNA Index System (“CODIS”) database. Upon the successful completion of the terms of his supervised release, Kriesel requested the return of his DNA sample under Fed. R. Crim. P. 41(g), which allows “a person aggrieved… by the deprivation of property [to] move for the property’s return.” Kriesel did not object to his DNA profile remaining in the CODIS database. Pursuant to Rule 41(g), the court may presumptively grant the request unless the government can show a reasonable need for retaining the property. Kriesel argued that the government had no legitimate reason for keeping his DNA sample, which contained sensitive personal information. The government argued that it had a legitimate purpose in keeping the DNA sample in order to maintain an accurate and trustworthy searchable database. The district court, although it found that Kriesel’s DNA sample was “property” and that Kriesel was “aggrieved” under the meaning of Rule 41(g), held that the government’s continued use of the DNA sample was reasonable and denied Kriesel’s request. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the lower court’s decision, holding that the government’s retention of Kriesel’s DNA sample was “reasonable under all circumstances” and that the government’s legitimate interest survived Kriesel’s completion of his sentence. The panel also noted that statutes place strong limitations on the government’s ability to use the sample in the future. AFFIRMED.

Advanced Search