Juveniles and DNA Samples

In 2011, Juvenile 1 (J1) and two of his friends entered a department store. He put on a pair of pants in a dressing room, and left the store alone without paying for them. He saw his friends fighting with the store’s security guard and joined in. He kicked the guard in the head. He was later convicted of felony grand theft person, under California’s Penal Code Section 487, he was ordered to submit fingerprints and DNA samples to the California Department of Justice. J1 submitted the samples and fingerprints.

In 2013, Juvenile 2 (J2) entered an unoccupied house and took a cell phone, a video game system, and some jewelry. However, the homeowner returned while J2 was still there. To help him escape J2 Brandished a knife at the homeowner. He was unsuccessful and was arrested by the police. At his trial, the court sustained a wardship petition based on misdemeanor residential burglary and felony grand theft person. He, too, was ordered to submit fingerprints and DNA samples.

In 2014, the voters of the State of California approved Proposition 47. This measure recategorized some nonviolent offenses as misdemeanors, rather than as felonies – as they had been previously categorized.

In 2015 both J1 and J2 petitioned the courts to have their convictions recategorized as misdemeanors, their fines reduced and their DNA samples and profiles be expunged (removed and destroyed) from the state’s databank. Both courts granted their requests to reduce their convictions to misdemeanors, but both courts also refused to have their requests for expungement.

Both J1 and J2 appealed their decisions in two different appellate courts. Both appellate courts agreed with the trial courts.

Again, J1 and J2 appealed their decisions to the California State Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court noted that for many decades California law has demanded that certain convicted felons must provide DNA samples, et cetera upon their convictions. In 2004, the law was amended to include juvenile offenders.

The Court then went on to uphold both Appellate Courts stating:

“After the courts’ re-designation orders, [J1 and J2] no longer stand adjudicated of felonies. But they cannot meet the additional expungement requirements of [the statute]: lack of charges, acquittal, appellate reversal, or a finding of factual innocence. On the face of the statute, eligibility for expungement is confined to these circumstances. Nothing in [the statute]

authorizes expungement on the ground that conduct previously deemed a felony is now punished only as a misdemeanor.”

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