Maryland Court of Appeals
Maryland police arrested Alonzo Jay King, Jr., in 2009 for first- and second-degree assault. Under Maryland’s DNA Collection Act (the “DNA Act”), the police were authorized to collect King’s DNA. When the DNA data was added to the state’s database, it matched a prior set of DNA data collected in a separate 2003 rape case that remained unsolved. Using the 2009 DNA match as evidence, a Maryland trial court convicted King of the 2003 rape. The state’s highest court reversed King’s conviction, finding that the DNA evidence was improperly obtained during an unreasonable search. The court deemed the search unreasonable and thus unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment because King’s right to the expectation of privacy was greater than Maryland’s interest in using his DNA to identify him. Still, the court upheld the constitutionality of the DNA Act overall. How the Supreme Court decides this case will reflect its view on the correct balance between the government’s interest in solving violent crimes using DNA evidence and an individual’s interest in retaining his Fourth Amendment right against warrantless, suspicionless searches.
Does the Fourth Amendment allow the States to collect and analyze DNA from people arrested and charged with serious crimes?
When state officials collect and analyze a DNA sample taken from a person who has been arrested for, but not convicted of, a criminal offense, is there a violation of the person’s right against unreasonable searches as guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment?