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Anatomy of a DNA Database

Maryland has been collecting DNA samples from offenders since 1994, when the database was established. Technology has come a long way since then, and so has Maryland.

Originally, only sex offenders had to submit a DNA sample. In 2002, this was expanded to include those convicted of other crimes. In 2009, the law was expanded again, including even more people in the statewide DNA database. Maryland has made great strides in streamlining the system, from collection to analysis and has eliminated in the last few years a looming backlog. This is fine for the state, but what about Maryland’s citizens? Who is required to submit DNA samples? What happens to the samples that you submit?

Maryland law states that DNA samples are to be collected from convicted felons at the time of sentencing or intake.  Where it gets a bit messy is that police can collect DNA samples from anybody who is charged with a violent crime, even if they have not been convicted. More specifically, the law allows law enforcement to collect your DNA if you have been charged with or arrested for the following:

  • Crimes of violence
  • 1st, 2nd, or 3rd degree burglary
  • Attempts of any of the above crimes

However, this DNA cannot be put in the national database before the first scheduled arraignment date. In addition, if a person is cleared of charges, then their DNA sample must be destroyed. Of course, if the person agrees and believes that their DNA will clear them of charges, they can agree to have their sample processed and checked against evidence.

If your DNA was wrongfully collected and you have not been notified of its destruction, then you need the help of a lawyer to track down the sample and ensure it is properly destroyed. If you are concerned that your DNA has been wrongly collected or processed, call our firm for help.

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