When you or a loved one is facing criminal charges, there are many vitally important choices to make. Do you take your chances and go to trial? Do you plead guilty? Do you make some other sort of plea, such as an Alford plea? In one recent case before the Maryland Court of Appeals, the high court concluded that a man’s Alford plea functioned similarly to a guilty plea and prevented him from requesting DNA testing on newly discovered evidence.
Among the many defenses a person can assert in a criminal case, evidence relating to DNA has gained increasing attention over recent years. Not only do people present DNA evidence throughout the course of their trials, but also cases have even been re-opened when relevant DNA evidence comes to light. One of the primary reasons for the increased use of such evidence in a criminal case is the continuous technological and scientific advancements in the field. Of course, state laws applicable to criminal cases must also evolve to keep up with these changes.
In 2001, Maryland’s General Assembly enacted the post-conviction DNA testing statute to provide a way for people who have been convicted of certain crimes to gather mitigating or exculpatory evidence through DNA testing of items related to the conviction. To understand how this law could apply to your case, you are encouraged to contact a Maryland criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
In a recent case involving a request for post-conviction relief, the appellant was convicted of first-degree murder and other related offenses in 1996. Many years later, in 2008, quite a while after the conviction became final, the appellant sought relief under the post-conviction DNA testing statute. He attempted to prove that under Section 8-201 of the Maryland Criminal Procedure Article, one item of the prosecution’s case (socks allegedly worn at the time of the murders) failed to contain his DNA. However, the State responded by informing the appellant that the socks no longer existed and were destroyed along with other items related to the case, once the matter was deemed final. The appellant did not reply to this response and later unsuccessfully pursued additional post-conviction relief, claiming that the evidence was destroyed in bad faith.