Be Careful Where You Spit! How DNA is Used in Forensic Testing

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dnaWe have all heard how a person got a conviction because of the DNA evidence left in the crime scene. The way the media portrays it, you would think that DNA forensic testing is prominent in all criminal cases. The fact is DNA testing is evidence in less than 1% of all cases at any given time.

However, it is still extremely useful when it is used, and there has been great improvement in the process since its first use in court in 1987, DNA Plus relates. Back in the day, a dime-sized blood sample was necessary for DNA analysis. Today, even a trace amount of saliva can be enough.

Can DNA Alone Lead to a Conviction?

Despite improvements in the process, there is still a margin of error in DNA forensic testing. To get a conviction, the prosecuting attorney should be able to prove a person’s guilt “beyond reasonable doubt”.

Because DNA evidence is not foolproof, it is not enough to get a conviction on its own. Other evidence must support it. However, it can eliminate or acquit a suspect.

Can DNA Get the Wrongfully Convicted Out of Prison?

Back in the day when there was no DNA forensic testing, many defendants went to prison because of circumstantial evidence. There was DNA evidence such as hair, blood, semen, or saliva collected, but there was no way to use it.

As it turns out, while many of those convictions may have been justified, a few people serving time would have been immediately acquitted if DNA forensic testing was available. This is how the Innocence Project gets a closed case reopened so that a judge may look over the evidence.

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Again, DNA is not enough to get a convicted person out of jail. You will need more evidence. DNA forensic testing is far from the all-seeing crystal in criminal cases. However, it is a reliable way to point a criminal investigation in the right direction.