U.S. Supreme Court review could affect Maryland criminal appeals

On behalf of Jack B. Rubin, PA posted in Criminal Appeals on Wednesday, October 31, 2012.

The United States Supreme Court may soon choose to review a Maryland high court decision which negated a portion of the Maryland DNA Collection Act. Depending on how the federal court decides, there will be repercussions for criminal cases and criminal appeals in the state.

Details of the case in question are these. The state of Maryland had arrested a man in 2009 for assault but never convicted him of that particular crime. However, they did collect his DNA when he was arrested and put it into a database as allowed by the state’s DNA Collection Act. That subsequently turned up a DNA match for a 2003 rape and authorities went on to convict the man for that earlier crime.

The man appealed his conviction, maintaining that it violated his Fourth Amendment right to be protected from unreasonable searches and seizures. The Maryland Court of Appeals agreed and overturned his conviction. The Court pointed out that the collection of DNA at the man’s arrest violated his expectation of privacy and the presumption of innocence guaranteed by law. They held that such a person has a greater expectation of privacy than someone who has actually been convicted of a crime.

There’s no word on whether the Supreme Court will agree to hear this case. Whatever decision it comes to, it will affect Maryland defendants hoping to make criminal appeals based upon the lower court’s ruling. If the justices decide not to review the case, then the lower court’s decision will stand. If they do review it, they could reverse the state court’s ruling and it’s possible that the whole Maryland DNA Collection Act could be restored.

Source: Southern Maryland Online, “Supreme Court May Examine Maryland DNA Collection Law,” Colleen Jaskot, Oct. 20, 2012

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