Maryland’s DNA databank, a potent tool of police and prosecutors, will be tested Monday when defense lawyers for a rape suspect ask the state’s highest court to rule that forcing felons to give DNA samples is unconstitutional.
At stake is the growing bank of what now holds 29,000 genetic profiles – a database that Maryland State Police say has yielded 131 apparent matches to other cases or people, and 149 more that aided investigations.
A convicted robber is challenging the state law that landed his DNA in the state databank and enabled Montgomery County prosecutors to allege last year that he raped a woman in 1996. Defense lawyers say this is a cutting-edge issue. DNA databanks encompass an increasing number of people. Advances in DNA analysis and information-sharing open the possibility that DNA collected for one purpose will be used for another. But the state attorney general’s office argues that DNA collection is constitutional.