Can Law Enforcement Personnel Collect a DNA Sample from a Minor?

Posted by Neil Shouse | Oct 15, 2018 | 0 Comments

dna sample minors law assembly bill california

California Assembly Bill 1584 states that if law enforcement personnel wish to collect a DNA sample from a minor, they must first get the permission of both the minor and his/her parent(s).

Gov. Brown recently signed AB 1584 into law in September 2018; and, it imposes several other rules on the collection of a minor's DNA.

For example, if a DNA sample is collected from a minor under the new law, and the sample has not implicated the minor as a suspect for a crime, then AB 1584 states that:

  • The sample must be destroyed within two years from the date of collection; and/or,
  • The sample must be destroyed upon the minor's request.

AB 1584 also prohibits a minor's DNA sample, collected via consent, from being analyzed or compared to profiles related to crimes other than the one for which it was taken.

If authorities violate Assembly Bill 1584, they can be penalized with a $5,000 fine.

There are a few exceptions to the new law. The most important is that authorities can collect a DNA sample from a minor, without consent, if they have a court order or a search warrant.

AB 1584 and New Laws on DNA Collection from Minors

According to AB 1584, three conditions must be met before a law enforcement officer can collect a DNA sample from a minor. These are:

  1. The minor must consent in writing, after being properly informed;
  2. The minor's parent, or legal guardian, must consent after consulting with the minor; and,
  3. Law enforcement personnel must give the minor a request form for the destruction of his DNA sample.

If a minor provides a DNA sample, in accordance with Assembly Bill 1584, that sample must be destroyed upon:

  • A valid request by the minor; and/or,
  • Two years passing from the date the sample was given.

Please note that a sample will only be destroyed if the sample did not implicate the minor as a suspect for a crime.

In addition, if a DNA sample is collected, the sample can only be analyzed or compared to profiles for the specific case in which it was collected.

If a law enforcement agency is found to have collected DNA in violation of AB 1584, the agency is liable to each minor whose sample was inappropriately collected in the amount of $5,000. This fine is assessed per each and every violation.

Exceptions to AB 1584's Consent Requirements

Assembly Bill 1584 provides four exceptions to the rules that require consent before a minor's DNA can be collected. A minor's DNA can be collected, without consent, if:

  1. It's collected pursuant to a search warrant or court order;
  2. It's collected in the investigation or identification of a missing or abducted minor;
  3. It's collected from a juvenile victim or suspected perpetrator of a sexual assault; and,
  4. It's collected as evidence in a criminal investigation, such as evidence from a crime scene or an abandoned sample.

In large part, AB 1584 was adopted to protect minors from extraordinary private intrusion without strict supervision and the guidance and consent from a parent or legal guardian.

About the Author

Neil Shouse

A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, Court TV, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.


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