Law and disorder when crimes lab procedures are unreliable

When people watch crime shows on TV, they often see pristine forensics labs where confident scientists reach conclusions almost effortlessly based on only a modicum of evidence. Often, those fictional scientists appear in court to testify at the trial of the accused, and when they explain the findings of the suspect's DNA, the jurors nod in agreement, their verdict confirmed.

Your recent arrest for a violent crime may have you more than a little concerned, especially if police have warned you that a forensics crime lab has confirmed that your DNA was at the scene of the crime. However, you may be interested in learning that the recent scandals in Austin's crime lab and others across the country have brought the science of DNA testing into question, in turn, adding speculation about the convictions that resulted from such tests.

DNA test results may not be scientific

The supposed science of DNA testing is relatively new, but many ascribe to its ability to narrow down a suspect pool and lead police to the most likely perpetrator of a crime. What you may not realize is that DNA testing is not the objective, infallible tool many law enforcement agencies – both real and fictional – portray it to be, for example:

  • Forensics labs do not have a uniform method of testing DNA.
  • Crime lab auditors do not monitor DNA testing; they only check to see that each lab has some sort of protocol on place.
  • DNA samples are often contaminated, incomplete and mixed with other substances, including the DNA of other people.
  • Many crime labs, including Austin's, typically use DNA testing to confirm a suspect police have in mind rather than to seek the truth.
  • The testimony of many DNA examiners may be flawed in order to support their findings.

Juries often believe DNA evidence is foolproof, and the testimony of an expert may confirm that infallibility. In fact, based on faulty DNA results, Austin juries may have convicted thousands of people over the past years. Thousands more across the country may be in similar circumstances, including many who received death sentences following convictions based on DNA evidence.

While it may seem as if authorities have your case closed before it even begins, you still have rights to defend. Among those rights is the ability to question the evidence prosecutors claim to have against you. By seeking the counsel of an experienced legal professional, you will have a determined advocate who will address these issues in your name.

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