Did DNA collection violate Maryland man’s 4th Amendment rights?

On behalf of Jack B. Rubin, PA posted in Criminal Appeals on Friday, August 3, 2012.

Law enforcement officials have a lot of power when it comes to enforcing the laws of a state or the federal government. While this power seems endless when you are on the receiving end, it is important to remember that it is not unlimited. Individuals have certain rights that protect them from unfair, unlawful or targeted prosecution.

One of these rights is the Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure. This right is a broad right that often needs clarification, and that is precisely what the Supreme Court is likely to do in the case of a Maryland man who’s DNA was collected and used to charge him with a crime that had occurred six years prior.

In Maryland, a law allows law enforcement officials to collect an individual’s DNA when he or she has been accused of a violent crime or burglary. In this case, the man was arrested on assault charges in 2009. Law enforcement officials immediately took a blood sample and ran it against the forensic evidence collected during unsolved investigations. When there was a hit in the database, prosecutors used the evidence to convict him of a crime that occurred in 2003 and sentence him to life in prison.

The man appealed the conviction. In April, the Maryland Court of Appeals overturned the conviction and put a stop on the collection of DNA evidence upon arrest. When the conviction was overturned, the state made an appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States. The court — while not confirmed on the docket — is reportedly going to hear the case and determine whether this law violates an individual’s rights.

In the meantime, U.S. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. authorized the temporary collection of evidence until the Supreme Court can rule on the matter — and several police departments have already said that they will take advantage of this temporary order.

For individuals arrested for any crime, it is important to remember that arrest does not equal guilt. It is also extremely important to understand an individual’s right to an attorney and the further protections that right provides.

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

If you believe that you or a family member was wrongfully convicted of crime for any reason, our Baltimore appeals and post conviction page will provide more information.

No Comments

Post A Comment