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DNA evidence and privacy rights: looking at a recent court decision, P.2

In our last post, we mentioned that the Maryland Supreme Court recently ruled in a case that raised the issue of whether DNA evidence collected as part of a routine booking procedure could be stored in a database and used for investigation of unrelated crimes. The court, after considering the issue, held that such use of DNA evidence is indeed constitutional, provided it is obtained legally.

The decision stemmed from a case a man who voluntarily provided a DNA sample to police back in 2012 after being accused of rape. That sample ended up getting him off the hook for the rape allegation, but later allowed police to tie him to a burglary from 2008 after the sample was entered into the database. At trial, he sought to have the DNA evidence suppressed as an unlawful search, but that motion was denied. 

Maryland’s DNA database goes all the way back to 1994, and since that time over 4,000 positive matches have been recorded by Maryland State Police. So, the database is clearly an important tool in solving crimes, and will surely continue to be. For criminal suspects, it is important to realize that providing a DNA sample could lead to possible connections to other offenses. It is also important to realize that law enforcement officers do not need express consent from suspects accused of committing a felony to gather DNA.

Whenever an individual is linked to a crime by means of DNA evidence, working with an experienced attorney is imperative in order to ensure that their rights are protected. This is all the more important given the weight given to DNA evidence. 

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