Maryland Now Allows DNA Obtained During Investigations to be Used to Solve Future Crimes
A recent ruling from the Maryland Supreme Court will allow DNA evidence collected in police investigations to be used indefinitely to find possible matches at future crime scenes. Law enforcement officials praise the ruling, but some critics fear it could be a case of the government overstepping its boundaries.
Now, once a DNA sample has been legally obtained from a crime scene or through any type of investigation, it could be used to investigate any future or unsolved crime without violating the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution — even if that crime is completely unrelated to the investigation that yielded the sample. This decision was another step forward from a decision made two years ago, in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled DNA samples are no different than booking photos or fingerprints in terms of how they may be classified and used as evidence.
The ruling came after investigators used DNA from a man who voluntarily provided a sample to police in Anne Arundel County in 2012 during a rape investigation. Although the sample cleared him of that alleged rape, it connected him to an unrelated burglary in 2008 when it was uploaded to a DNA database managed by the Maryland State Police.
The man then attempted to have the evidence suppressed on the grounds of it being an unlawful search and seizure, but a judge denied the motion in 2013, leading to the case being heard by an appeals court and eventually the Maryland Supreme Court. He later entered a conditional guilty plea to charges of second-degree burglary and was ultimately sentenced to serve four years in prison.
If you’ve been charged with a criminal offense in Maryland, reach out to a knowledgeable La Plata criminal defense lawyer at Mudd, Mudd & Fitzgerald, P.A.