How DNA Evidence is Used in Criminal Cases

Posted By David L. Carlson, Attorney At Law || 17-Jun-2015

In the last decade, there has been great advances in a very powerful criminal justice tool: deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). With the advances in scientific technology, DNA evidence can be used with incredible accuracy to identify or exclude a criminal when there is biological evidence.

Aside from identifying criminals from biological evidence left behind at a crime scene, DNA is now being used to clear suspects and exonerate prisoners who were wrongfully convicted of crimes they did not commit.

Whether it means pinpointing a criminal with laser precision or fully exonerating a suspect, either way, DNA technology is vital when it comes to ensuring the accuracy of our criminal justice system.

TV shows such as CSI and Cold Case Files, and success stories from the Innocence Project discuss the successful use of DNA to solve rape and murder mysteries. In the “Green River” killings back in 2001, it was DNA evidence that led to a major breakthrough in a series of unsolved crimes that had plagued a large law enforcement task force and cost taxpayers $15 million.

Two Ways DNA Solves Crime

There are two ways that DNA evidence is used to solve crimes. If the suspect has been identified, a sample of the suspect’s DNA is compared to evidence collected at the crime scene. The results can establish whether that person committed the crime or not.

In cases where there are no suspects, the biological evidence from the crime scene can be analyzed and compared to offender profiles in law enforcement DNA databases. If the offender’s profile is in the DNA database, it can help law enforcement identify the perpetrator.

Additionally, the biological evidence at one crime scene can be compared to and in some cases, linked to other crime scenes through utilizing DNA databases.

Value of Trained Officers

As the first responders at crime scenes, law enforcement officers should all be trained in properly identifying, collecting, and preserving biological evidence for criminal investigations and crime laboratories.

If law enforcement fails to secure a crime scene, or if biological evidence is compromised, or collected improperly, it means that valuable evidence can be missed, lost, or rendered unreliable for testing.

To learn how DNA evidence may play a role in your criminal case, contact Carlson & Collier for a free consultation with a Richmond criminal defense attorney!

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