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Accused But Not Convicted? Hands Off My DNA!

| Jul 31, 2012 | Criminal Defense |

Alonzo King was arrested for assault in 2009. Under Maryland’s DNA Collection Act, law enforcement took a DNA sample from him without a warrant. The Act allows police to collect DNA samples from anyone arrested for (not convicted of) certain felony charges, including burglary, attempted burglary, a violent crime or an attempt at a violent crime.

King’s DNA was used to tie him to a 2003 rape; he was convicted of the rape based at least in part on the DNA collected after he was accused of the 2009 assault and sentenced to life in prison. The Maryland Court of Appeals overturned King’s sentence but the U.S. Supreme Court has indicated that it may overturn the Court of Appeals’ decision, allowing the collection of DNA from the accused to continue.

Supreme Court Stays Sentence; Allows Continued DNA Collection

The U.S. Supreme Court put a stay on the ruling of the Maryland Court of Appeals. The stay allows law enforcement to continue collecting DNA from those accused but not convicted of crimes over the next several months despite the Court of Appeals ruling against it.

The Supreme Court does not begin its next session until October; if the stay had not been granted Chief Justice John Roberts stated that Maryland would have been limited in their enforcement efforts by not being able to collect DNA samples from accused people in the meantime.

King is represented by a public defender in Maryland. His attorney is hopeful that the U.S. Supreme Court will uphold the search and seizure of genetic information without a warrant and before conviction is unconstitutional. The 4th Amendment protects all people from unreasonable searches and seizures by law enforcement.

Source: News and Insight, “Supreme Court may review case over DNA samples,” July 30, 2012

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