Although the popularity of shows like CSI: Crime Scene Investigation have raised public interest regarding the application of forensic science in crime scene investigations, proving beyond a reasonable doubt that a suspect is guilty of a crime based off of the results of forensic testing procedures is a less infallible process than public perception often is led to believe. As we discussed in the last section, when applied correctly, forensic science can be an extremely useful investigation tool, but what about when it’s misapplied?
In this section, a federal criminal defense attorney in Tampa will review ways that a jury can be mislead when inaccurate forensic science results are presented as the star witness in a case.
According to the Innocence Project, 45 percent of DNA exoneration cases were a result of the “misapplication of forensic science.” Here are some ways that the organization states that forensic science can be misapplied:
Erratic Method: Were the results of the forensic investigation accurate? Is this method sufficiently supported by scientific data? It’s critical that any evidence presented in court is, in fact, a valid and proven system. Over the years, everything from microscopic hairs to bitemarks to shoe prints have been considered incriminating evidence that lead to a conviction. Unfortunately, none of these “forensic” examples are supported by enough scientific data to prove a person is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Overstating: In some depositions and testimonies, the first act of deception is referring to a forensic analyst testifying in a case as an “expert.” From here, the entire testimony can mislead a jury in a variety of ways including overstating the accuracy of the results of the forensic evidence tested, utilizing misleading scientific terminology that’s intended to confuse the jury, and ignoring the potential limitations of the research method that was used.
In many cases, the evidence obtained at a crime scene only slightly resembles the suspect’s characteristics, but is considered a “near match” by the expert; whereas, in other cases, if the suspect should be excluded from the investigation, the expert will say the results were “inconclusive.”
Accidents During Testing: As obtaining forensic evidence and testing this evidence is a highly meticulous process, mistakes are prone to happen during this complicated procedure. Whether it’s a crime scene procedure that fails or a contaminated specimen in a lab, there are several ways that human nature can impact a process that requires an extraordinary level of precision.
Crime Scene Procedures: Unfortunately, law enforcement isn’t always lawful. The police use many techniques that violate the law and your rights. From illegal detainment to secret interrogation techniques to searching property without probable cause or a search warrant, if law enforcement violated your rights during an investigation, consult a federal criminal defense lawyer in Tampa.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.