The First Department, in a full-fledged opinion by Justice Mendez, over a dissent, reversing Family Court, determined appellant’s motion to expunge all DNA evidence collected from him in this juvenile delinquency proceeding should have been granted. When appellant,16, was being interrogated by the police about a robbery, he was given a disposable cup from which he drank water. The cup was then sent by the interrogating officer for DNA analysis. No DNA had been collected from the robbery scene, so there was no investigatory purpose for collection of appellant’s DNA:
A juvenile delinquency adjudication, just as a youthful offender adjudication, is not a criminal conviction and a juvenile delinquent should not be denominated a criminal by reason of such adjudication … . A juvenile delinquent is not and should not be afforded fewer adjudication protections than a youthful offender or an adult in the equivalent circumstances … . Family Court, therefore, has the discretion to order the expungement of appellant’s DNA and any other documents related to the testing of his DNA sample. * * *
It has not been established that appellant purposefully divested himself of the cup or his DNA, thereby relinquishing his expectation of privacy. Nor has it been established that he waived, impliedly or explicitly, his constitutional rights to that expectation. * * *
DNA evidence obtained after an arrest should be material and relevant and should have a link to the charges for which the individual is arrested. There must be an articulable basis to obtain this DNA evidence and a correlation to the investigation or prosecution of the charged offense. That articulable basis to obtain appellant’s DNA is lacking here. * * *
Under the totality of the circumstances, maintaining appellant’s DNA profile in OCME’s database in perpetuity is completely incompatible with the statutory goal and would result in a substantial injustice to the appellant. Matter of Francis O., 2022 NY Slip Op 03969, First Dept 6-16-22.
Practice Point: Here the appellant was 16 when he was interrogated by the police. He drank water from a paper cup. The interrogating officer sent the cup for DNA analysis. There was no investigative purpose for the DNA collection. The appellant did not abandon the cup and did not waive his privacy interest in it. His constitutional rights were therefore violated by the collection of his DNA and he was entitled to expungement of the DNA evidence.