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
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
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!