Maryland’s DNA collection process changes again

Back in May, we shared a post about the DNA collection process following Maryland felony arrests. The Court of Appeals in Maryland temporarily halted law enforcement’s freedom to swab suspects for DNA samples, believing that such evidence collection was too personally invasive following a mere arrest.

Earlier this month, however, U.S. Chief Justice John G. Roberts temporarily reversed the court’s ban on the DNA collection in the state. It didn’t take long after the announced process change for law enforcement entities throughout the state, including Baltimore, to pick up where they left off and start collecting DNA following arrests for crimes of violence again.

This matter is supposed to go before the Supreme Court, who will make the ultimate ruling whether collecting DNA evidence after an arrest goes against the Fourth Amendment. Even if someone is arrested for a felony charge, isn’t he granted his right to privacy and protection from unreasonable search and seizure? That’s the question that remains to be officially answered.

Sources do not suggest a timeline for when this controversial criminal law matter will be settled. The future of at least one Maryland defendant rests on the decision. He was arrested for assault when law enforcement collected his DNA and then matched it up to a past rape case. The DNA collection, therefore, resulted in a life sentence, that was until the court banned the process in April, thereby reversing the defendant’s sentence.

We will post an update when the Supreme Court rules on this issue.

Source: The Baltimore Sun, “Maryland law enforcement agencies resume DNA collections,” Yvonne Wenger, July 19, 2012

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