Answers to some of your DNA questions
In the past, we have discussed the subject of DNA evidence in relation to criminal cases on this blog. The particular post discussed a man who was wrongfully imprisoned for twenty-four years. The man was convicted of a string of sex crimes. After more than two decades in jail, DNA evidence finally cleared his name. DNA evidence is the holy grail of criminal law. It’s perfect, or so we’re told. A person’s hair; some blood; any bodily fluids; all of these things provide concrete evidence. Matched with a suspect’s hair, or blood, or bodily fluid, the evidence can prove a person’s guilt or cement the person’s innocence. And yeah, in that regard, it is perfect. A person’s DNA doesn’t lie. The potential use of this evidence is exciting on some levels. Imagine the man in our previous post rewinding 24 years; and he was even brought into a courtroom, DNA evidence had cleared his name. That’s a great story. An equally great story is when DNA evidence finds a truly evil person committing terrible crimes, helping to establish his guilt. DNA evidence is a powerful tool in the world of criminal defense. The great potential of DNA evidence can be its biggest problem though. The perfection is only perceived. DNA evidence is still handled by people — and as we all know, people make mistakes. Just because we have DNA evidence does not mean the human element involved is eliminated. DNA samples can be tainted; labs can be unclean or negligent; lab employees can be poorly trained or unqualified. These factors could compromise the integrity of an individual piece of DNA evidence, and thus, the entire case against a defendant. More states are using DNA evidence and entering contracts with crime labs to support this relatively new process. While it can be a good tool, DNA evidence also has a dark side — as it turns out, DNA evidence can actually lie.