Eyewitness Identification Reform
State statute requires that all law enforcement agencies implement scientifically-supported eyewitness identification protocols that contain: blind administration, proper instructions; proper fillers, and confidence statements. Effective: 2007. Amended most recently: 2015.
Recording of Interrogations
A law enforcement unit that regularly utilizes one or more interrogation rooms capable of creating audiovisual recordings of custodial interrogations shall make reasonable efforts to create an audiovisual recording of a custodial interrogation of a criminal suspect in connection with a case involving murder, rape, sexual offense in the first degree or sexual offense in the second degree, whenever possible. Effective: 2008.
Additionally, a law was passed in 2022 which requires custodial interrogations of juveniles to be recorded in their entirety, with exceptions for cases in which recording is “impossible, impracticable, or unsafe to do so.” If an officer willfully fails to comply with the recording requirements, there is a rebuttable presumption of inadmissibility of the interrogation evidence. Effective: 2022.
Post Conviction DNA Testing
A person convicted of a crime of violence may petition for post-conviction DNA testing. In 2018, the law was amended in response to Maryland Supreme Court decisions to clarify that people who pleaded guilty may be eligible for post-conviction DNA testing and relief through a writ of actual innocence. Effective: 2001; Amended most recently: 2018.
State statute requires the automatic preservation of biological evidence collected in relation to a murder (1st and 2nd degree), manslaughter, rape (1st and 2nd degree), or sexual offense (1st and 2nd degree). The evidence must be preserved for the length of an individual’s sentence. Effective: 2001; Amended most recently: 2009.
Maryland's statute meets the best practices standards outlined by the NIST Technical Working Group on Biological Evidence Preservation.
State law enables compensation for those who have received a pardon for a wrongful conviction or who can prove to an administrative law judge that they were wrongfully convicted for a felony. An eligible person shall receive an amount determined by the length of time they were wrongfully incarcerated and the state’s most recent median income. Additionally, exonerees who previously received compensation at a lower rate under prior law may apply to receive the difference. The law also enables exonerees to be provided with non-monetary services, including housing, health care, college tuition, and job and vocational training. Effective: 1999; Amended most recently: 2021.
State statute requires each state’s attorney office to track the use of in-custody witness testimony and send the following information to the Governor’s Office of Crime Prevention for maintenance in a statewide index : 1) the substance of the in-custody informant’s testimony, whether or not it was presented in court proceedings, 2) the purpose for which the state’s attorney used the testimony, and 3) any benefit received by the in-custody witness for the testimony.
State’s attorneys are also required to disclose within 30 days of a defendant’s first appearance: 1) benefits provided or expected in exchange for an in-custody witness’s testimony, 2) substance, time, place of any statement made by suspect/defendant to the in-custody witness and made by the in-custody witness to law enforcement, and 3) other cases in which the in-custody witness testified and benefits provided in exchange for their testimony. Additionally, the law requires victims of the in-custody witness’s crimes to be notified if leniency is provided in exchange for their testimony. Effective: October 2020.
Access to Police Disciplinary Records
In 2021, Maryland passed a law that enables public access to certain police disciplinary records. Except for a record of a “technical infraction,” any records relating to an administrative or criminal investigation of misconduct by a law enforcement officer, including an internal affairs investigatory record, a hearing record, and records relating to a disciplinary decision, are not subject to mandatory denial of inspection under the Maryland Public Information Act (MPIA), but instead subject to discretionary denial as provided under MPIA. Effective: October 2021.