Thank You For Submiting Feedback!
Under Tex. Fam. Code § 51.15, probable cause is required, under both exceptions to the rule, to authorize the taking of a child's fingerprints.
Appellant, John Kenneth Lanes, a juvenile, was convicted of burglary of a habitation. His arrest was based on a fingerprint order issued pursuant to Tex. Fam. Code § 51.15. The trial court and the court of appeals affirmed the conviction, finding that the fingerprint order provided sufficient probable cause to arrest and fingerprint appellant.
Was the probable cause requisite of Art. I, Sec. 9 of the Texas Constitution and the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution applicable to the arrest of a child, thereby rendering the taking of appellant’s fingerprints in an arrest illegal?
On appeal, the Court reversed the lower court's decision, holding that appellant's fingerprints were taken during an illegal juvenile arrest which was not founded on probable cause. The Court reasoned that the probable cause requirements of Tex. Const. art. I, § 9 and U.S. Const. amend. IV applied to a juvenile arrest, and under § 51.15, probable cause was required to authorize the taking of appellant's fingerprints. The Court held that although the fingerprint order provided authority to fingerprint, it did not provide authority to arrest appellant in order to do so, and the prosecution failed to establish the validity of the arrest. Because the only direct evidence linking appellant to the scene of the crime was his fingerprints, the Court found that their introduction contributed to the verdict and therefore remanded the case to the trial court.