Consent needed to take DNA from minors?

7 posts / 0 new
Last post
MissyJ's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 month 4 weeks ago
Joined: 01/31/02
Posts: 3289
Consent needed to take DNA from minors?

This story popped up in a news feed today:

Cops Take School Kids' DNA in Murder Case

Samples of DNA were collected without parental consent from students at a Sacramento, Calif., middle school in connection with the murder of an 8th grade student who was found stabbed, strangled and beaten to death near the dugout of a local park.

The Sacramento Sheriff's Department, which has been spearheading the investigation into the murder of Jessica Funk-Haslam, 13, said parental consent was not required in the DNA collection and interview of minors, several of whom were taken out of class during the day last week at Albert Einstein Middle School.

"These are interviews, not interrogations," Sheriff's Deputy Jason Ramos told ABCNews.com. "They are all consensual. Once it's done, there is a mechanism in place for school administrators to notify parents."

Ramos said the DNA collection was done at the time of the interview so efforts didn't have to be "duplicated." Ramos cautioned that the collection did not necessarily mean authorities had a DNA profile of the suspect.

Over the past few weeks, police have sifted through a number of leads and alibis but have been unable to name a suspect in Jessica's murder.

The teen's body was found at Rosemont Community Park on the morning of March 6. Jessica was reportedly arguing with her mother the night before and voluntarily left her home and boarded local transportation to a local park.

There is nothing under California law that prohibits DNA collection of consenting minors, said John Myers, a professor at the McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento.

"I think the answer is, kids can consent, and if they consented and it was knowing and intelligent, [law enforcement] can do the search," he told the Sacramento Bee.

Ramos said last week's DNA collection was not the first time detectives visited the school and that he expects they'll be back for more follow-up.

He declined to say how many students have been interviewed, but said students who spoke with detectives were sent home with contact information to give to their parents.

"The parents have been completely supportive of it, in fact advocating our detectives do that for the benefit of excluding their children," Ramos said. "We've gotten a lot of positive feedback."

But one parent who said her son was interviewed wasn't happy with the process.

"My child's in a room with two detectives being questioned and grilled and I'm sure he was quite frightened, which is very upsetting," Michaela Brown told the Los Angeles Times.

Gabe Ross, of the Sacramento City Unified School District, said the school immediately made efforts to notify parents by phone and also sent home a letter. However, Ross said the school would not stand in the way of the investigation.

"We're not in a position to interfere in any way with the law enforcement investigation. If and when law enforcement wants to interview our students, we inform parents immediately," Ross said.

The debate question: Should minors be able to consent to giving DNA samples without parental notification (prior to the fact) and consent? (An additional question would be whether you would wish to have your minor child interviewed by police without your knowledge and consent.)

mom3girls's picture
Offline
Last seen: 11 months 3 weeks ago
Joined: 01/09/07
Posts: 1537

Oh no, the police better not interview my child or take DNA without my knowledge and permission prior too. I would direct my child to cooperate including give DNA if they had just cause to get it. But I would not want them doing a fishing expedition and take DNA just to have it.

Spacers's picture
Offline
Last seen: 7 months 2 weeks ago
Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 4104

No, no, no, no, no! If you have reason to believe that my child might be involved, then you talk to me and we'll decide together how to proceed, after I've had a chance to consult an attorney about my child's legal rights.
That said, if my child attended school with a classmate who had been murdered, I would have already talked with my child about what had happened, including asking if they had anything to do with it in any way. And I would have already talked with my child about what their rights & responsibilities are in talking with the police or providing DNA or access to her cell phone or anything else. My child would know that she does not have to talk with anyone without me present, she would know that I do not want her talking with anyone without me present, and she would know that she would not get in trouble for not doing so. Let them sue me if they think I'm impeding their investigation, see if they can prove it.

And I'm surprised they did this, considering that any good lawyer is going to get it thrown out as illegally obtained, even if they do find a suspect this way.

Offline
Last seen: 4 years 1 month ago
Joined: 06/04/07
Posts: 1368

This happened with my DD and her perp as well. Before I was even told about it, my DD was already"interviewed." They were also planning on "interviewing" the perp before notifying his parents at the time I learned of her situation. I was horrified to learn they did this without my knowledge or consent as they only needed the minor's permission until told otherwise. I told them under no uncertain terms are they to talk to her without my presence again, which they respected. These "interviews" are used against them in court so I don't see this as any different than interrogations as they ask the same questions they would otherwise. Their reasoning was to see if stories lined up later or if someone swayed dramatically from what they originally said. The interviews are recorded and transcribed for evidence as I have read them when they were charging him.

Kids are clueless as to what their rights are until they're in the middle of something serious. The cops at our schools befriend these kids so of course they're going to be willing to openly discuss whatever they want to know. And if they're not friends, they are told to respect authority and to follow their direction, so of course they're going to talk and cooperate with them. They don't know it may be used against them later on. I see this as pure manipulation by law enforcement. Why should minors have less rights as adults?

And no, I don't think this is considered illegally obtained if the children have consented and it doesn't state anywhere in statute that minors must have their guardian's permission to be interviewed. Evidence is easily gathered if need be for DNA without knowledge if they threw away something they knew was from the person being "interviewed" such as a pop can, even if they didn't cooperate with giving a DNA sample.

Offline
Last seen: 2 weeks 2 days ago
Joined: 04/12/03
Posts: 1763

"Beertje" wrote:

This happened with my DD and her perp as well. Before I was even told about it, my DD was already"interviewed." They were also planning on "interviewing" the perp before notifying his parents at the time I learned of her situation. I was horrified to learn they did this without my knowledge or consent as they only needed the minor's permission until told otherwise. I told them under no uncertain terms are they to talk to her without my presence again, which they respected. These "interviews" are used against them in court so I don't see this as any different than interrogations as they ask the same questions they would otherwise. Their reasoning was to see if stories lined up later or if someone swayed dramatically from what they originally said. The interviews are recorded and transcribed for evidence as I have read them when they were charging him.

Kids are clueless as to what their rights are until they're in the middle of something serious. The cops at our schools befriend these kids so of course they're going to be willing to openly discuss whatever they want to know. And if they're not friends, they are told to respect authority and to follow their direction, so of course they're going to talk and cooperate with them. They don't know it may be used against them later on. I see this as pure manipulation by law enforcement. Why should minors have less rights as adults?

And no, I don't think this is considered illegally obtained if the children have consented and it doesn't state anywhere in statute that minors must have their guardian's permission to be interviewed. Evidence is easily gathered if need be for DNA without knowledge if they threw away something they knew was from the person being "interviewed" such as a pop can, even if they didn't cooperate with giving a DNA sample.

It goes well beyond middle school. Many adults don't know what their rights are.

Offline
Last seen: 4 years 1 month ago
Joined: 06/04/07
Posts: 1368

"ethanwinfield" wrote:

It goes well beyond middle school. Many adults don't know what their rights are.

Absolutely agreed. My daughter was a sophomore in high school when her nightmare started. It also makes me wonder what campus police do for colleges, the same as public schools or differently since many incidences don't go beyond the colleges findings without public criminal charges?

Starryblue702's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 years 5 months ago
Joined: 04/06/11
Posts: 5454

"mom3girls" wrote:

Oh no, the police better not interview my child or take DNA without my knowledge and permission prior too. I would direct my child to cooperate including give DNA if they had just cause to get it. But I would not want them doing a fishing expedition and take DNA just to have it.

This!!