The Maryland Court of Appeals ruled this week that collecting DNA evidence from arrest suspects violates their constitutional rights against unreasonable searches, overturning a state law.
The state had expanded on earlier laws that allowed for collecting DNA from those convicted of crimes. But the Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, ruled Tuesday in the case of Alonzo Jay King Jr. v. the State of Maryland that drawing samples from those arrested amounted to a constitutional violation.
King was arrested in 2009 on assault charges, and his DNA was collected and analyzed by authorities, which resulted in him being linked to the 2003 rape of a Salisbury woman. King was later convicted of first-degree rape for the crime.
The ruling sends the case back to Wicomico County Circuit Court for a new trial, excluding the DNA collected from him as evidence.
The state had expanded DNA collection from those convicted of sexual assaults to those convicted of violent crimes and then, in 2008, to those arrested for those crimes, said ACLU of Maryland attorney David Rocah.
“We had fought very hard against this then,” Rocah said. “We said at the time we thought this was unconstitutional.
“Absent the court putting a halt to this, it would have kept creeping,” Rocah said of DNA collecting by the state.