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Md. Senate Votes to Keep DNA Collection on Arrests

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File photo of a cheek swab. (Credit: THOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images)

File photo of a cheek swab. (Credit: THOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images)

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (CBSDC/AP) — The Maryland Senate has voted to extend a state law that allows police to take DNA samples from arrestees for certain violent crimes.

The Senate voted 39-7 to pass the bill on Thursday, sending it to Gov. Martin O’Malley who supports the law.

The law, which took effect in 2009, was set to expire in December. The measure extends it indefinitely.

The U.S. Supreme Court heard a case challenging the law earlier this year. The high court has yet to rule.

Opponents say the law violates a person’s right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. Supporters say DNA is an important law enforcement tool and that cold cases have been solved under the law.

In the case before the Supreme Court, a 53-year-old woman was raped and robbed but no one was arrested. Almost six years later, Alonzo King was arrested and charged with felony second-degree assault. Taking advantage of the Maryland DNA law, police took a cheek swab of King’s DNA which matched a sample from the 2003 Salisbury rape. King was convicted of rape and sentenced to life in prison.

King eventually pled guilty to a lesser charge of misdemeanor assault, a crime for which Maryland cannot take DNA samples. The state courts said it violated King’s rights for the state to take his DNA based on an arrest alone.

The state Court of Appeals said King had “a sufficiently weighty and reasonable expectation of privacy against warrantless, suspicionless searches.”

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