US Supreme Court to review Maryland’s DNA Collection Act
Maryland’s DNA Collection Act permits law enforcement to collect genetic material from those arrested for a crime, even if they have not yet been convicted of that crime. The law does provide some limitations. The state can only collect DNA samples from individuals charged with a violent crime, such as sexual assault or murder.
The DNA samples are stored in a database and are used to link the suspects to other unsolved crimes. The constitutionality of the DNA Collection Act is being investigated by the United States Supreme Court in their review of Maryland v. King.
The facts of Maryland v. King
In 2009, police arrested Alonzo King on the charges of first- and second-degree assault. Pursuant to the Maryland DNA Collection Act, law enforcement collected King’s DNA at the time of his arrest. His DNA matched that collected from a 2003 rape case. King was ultimately convicted of rape. He appealed his conviction on the grounds that the Maryland DNA Collection Act violated his Fourth Amendment rights to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. The Maryland Court of Appeals agreed and reversed his conviction.
The United States Supreme Court agreed to review the constitutionality of the law. In late July, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. issued a ruling that while the Supreme Court was deciding the issue, the law could remain in effect. He called DNA collection “a valuable tool for investigating unsolved crimes.” This month a group of Maryland lawmakers filed an amicus brief arguing that the law should be upheld because it is a critical tool for law enforcement.
Other states are dealing with the same issue
The constitutionality of a similar California law is currently before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
The California law under scrutiny, however, is more expansive than Maryland’s DNA Collection Act. The California law requires that anyone arrested for a felony submit a DNA sample, regardless of whether the arrest w related to the commission of a violent crime. Maryland’s law only applies to specific violent crimes like murder and sexual assault.
California law also required that persons who were not ultimately charged with a felony to request from the state Department of Justice to get their DNA removed from the state’s database.
Experienced criminal defense attorney
DNA often is a deciding factor used to convict individuals in sex crimes cases. For individuals charged with a sex crime, it is important to prepare an aggressive defense from the start. An experienced Maryland criminal defense attorney can help protect your rights.