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If you are a fan of such TV series as Dexter and American Crime Story, you probably know that forensic evidence is often key to identifying suspects and arresting the perpetrator of a crime.
But how reliable is forensic evidence in the modern world? The answer to your question is: “Not as reliable as you think,” says our San Francisco criminal defense attorney at Okabe & Haushalter.
In the past few years, the scientific community has repeatedly discredited some of the most popular forensic evidence techniques used by prosecutors in California and all across the U.S. DNA evidence, fingerprints, bite marks, blood spatter patterns… All of these forensic analysis methods have been questioned by scientists, and some have even been dismissed as unreliable.
Despite this, prosecutors continue to use these methods, and innocent people continue to get locked up on the basis of unreliable and questionable evidence obtained by forensic experts. In many cases, those who have been imprisoned on the basis of inadmissible, false, or otherwise inaccurate forensic evidence are exonerated. But those who are not as lucky have to spend years or even decades in prison because they do not have an experienced criminal defense attorney in San Francisco who would help exonerate them.
Unfortunately, prosecutors continue to use forensic analysis tools that have been debunked and proven to be ineffective by scientists. Unless your criminal defense lawyer steps in and adopts an aggressive approach to reasonably question the accuracy or admissibility of forensic evidence provided against you, there is a high chance that you could end up in prison.
Contrary to the popular belief, many of the forensic analysis methods that are commonly used by prosecutors to convict defendants are not accurate. You may be surprised to hear this, but even DNA evidence is quite unreliable though both forensic experts and prosecutors regard it as “conclusive evidence.”
Let’s review this example. Let’s say that a suspect’s DNA is found at a crime scene. This suspect is then arrested by the police and thrown into jail for being positively implicated in the crime. But here’s what many people do not realize: DNA analysis methods have become so advanced and sophisticated that they are capable of recognizing even the smallest traces of DNA.
As you may know, you, as a normal human being, shed DNA all over the place whenever you touch anything and even when you do nothing. Another person touching the things you touched before he or she can pick up your DNA, and then “drop” it at a crime scene. Guess who will be implicated in the crime when your DNA ends up at the crime scene?
Another popular forensic analysis method called bloodstain pattern analysis is arguably the most unreliable and discredited by the scientific community. You probably know how this technique works from watching episodes of Dexter. The patterns of blood spatter at a crime scene are examined by forensic experts to recreate how the perpetrator committed the crime. Even though scientists have called into question the reliability and validity of blood-stain pattern analysis, it continues to be used by the prosecution.
But that’s not the worst part of forensic analysis methods. Our San Francisco criminal defense attorney at Okabe & Haushalter explains that cases when labs, law enforcement, and even prosecutors manipulate, fabricate, or even falsify the results of forensic evidence are not unheard of. Typically, only an experienced lawyer will be able to find inaccuracies in the forensic analysis against you and contest it. Find out more about your legal options to challenge the forensic evidence in your particular case. Call our offices at 310-430-7799 to get a free consultation.