Faulty use of forensic evidence can lead to wrongful convictions
Errors when working with forensic evidence can lead to wrongful imprisonment, even for the innocent.
August 22, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Faulty use of forensic evidence can lead to wrongful convictions
Article provided by Law Office of James H Newhouse
Visit us at http://www.jamesnewhouselaw.com
Advances in technology are often designed to make life easier. Microwaves allow us to zap a meal in a matter of minutes, cellphones give us the means to contact anyone at anytime by either calling or texting and security systems and thermostats within our homes can be managed remotely while we are away. While these forms of technological advances offer convenience, others can lead to frustration and injustice.
This is particularly true within the criminal law system. Faulty use of technology and overstating the results of certain tests used to build the prosecution's case are causing serious problems within the justice system.
Forensic evidence mishaps
A recent NY Times article highlighted one real life example of how technological advances used to find criminals can lead to injustice. The case involved the misuse of DNA evidence in California. In that case, a man's DNA was discovered on the fingernails of a murder victim. The evidence pointed to the man as the perpetrator and he was charged with murder. However, at the time the crime was committed the man was receiving treatment at a local hospital for severe intoxication.
The prosecution could not determine how their prime suspect's DNA was found on the victim while the suspect had a rock solid alibi. After further research, it appears the man's DNA was transferred by the paramedics; the same paramedics that provided for his initial care and aided him in receiving treatment for his intoxication, later responded to the crime scene to assist the murder victim. These paramedics likely transferred his DNA to the victim.
Thanks to the man's solid alibi, the presence of his DNA at the scene was scrutinized. Ultimately, he was released shortly after being charged.
Even the FBI makes mistakes
Others accused of crimes based on faulty forensic evidence or techniques have not been as lucky.
The FBI recently acknowledged that it will begin review of over 2,000 cases that may have used faulty forensic evidence techniques that led to wrongful convictions. The review was initiated after three individuals were exonerated. These men were convicted in large part due to testimony by FBI agents who specialized in hair analysis. These experts over stated the likely connection between a hair sample found at a crime scene and a sample provided by a defendant. This testimony played a significant role in the conviction.
After over 20 years in prison, additional DNA testing revealed the samples were not a match. As a result, these men were released.
Crime lab errors and misconduct pose risk for defendants. These examples are only a few of the errors that can occur at a crime scene or during a trial that could lead to a wrongful condition. As a result, it is important that even the innocent take criminal charges seriously.
If you are charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to discuss your situation and better ensure your legal rights are protected.
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