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Maryland Court of Appeals Decides to Not Reverse Ruling on DNA Collection

Maryland’s highest court will not overturn or suspend its April ruling that prohibits DNA collection from individuals charged, but not convicted, of violent crimes and burglaries, The Washington Post reports. The Maryland Court of Appeals clerk’s office confirmed that judges denied the request of the Maryland Attorney General to reconsider the decision made in Alonzo Jay King Jr. v. the State of Maryland, which found that swabbing criminal suspects for DNA after they are charged is a violation of their constitutional rights. With this new ruling, police will not be able to collect DNA from charged criminal suspects while they await action from the court.

The case centers around a piece of legislation in Maryland that allowed police, starting in 2009, to collect DNA from suspects after they were charged with burglaries or violent crimes; prior to this new law, police officers were only able to collect DNA from convicted criminals. Alonzo Jay King Jr. challenged the law after his April 2009 arrest in Wicomico County on first and second degree Maryland assault charges. Prosecutors in the case used a DNA swab from this case to connect him to a rape which occurred in 2003, and he was later convicted and sentenced to life in prison for the crime.

The Maryland Court of Appeals sent King’s case back to the circuit court of Wicomico County and threw out the DNA evidence against him, stating investigators violated the man’s Fourth Amendment rights by taking his genetic material and comparing it to samples from an old crime scene. The ruling drew criticism from police and prosecutors across the state. As the motion to reconsider the decision is denied, the Maryland Attorney General plans to petition the Supreme Court to suspend the ruling of the state court and eventually overturn it.

Any person charged with a crime in Maryland deserves to have their lawful rights protected from the time of the arrest to the court proceeding, and a skilled Maryland criminal defense lawyer will work to ensure legal rights are defended. With extensive experience successfully defending those facing a variety of criminal charges in MD, our legal team will work tirelessly to get you the best possible outcome in your case. For a no-cost case evaluation, call our offices at (301) 321-7277.