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Is DNA reliable evidence?

Posted on August 30, 2020

DNA is often the key evidence in a criminal case. It is scientific and holds a lot of weight to provide solid proof.

While many hold DNA evidence in high esteem, The Atlantic explains that this evidence is losing its ability to provide accurate proof in some situations.

The problem

The issue with DNA evidence is that the technology has come too far. That may seem like an odd issue, but what happens is that DNA collection and processing allows for micro samples that can increase the odds of DNA transfer.

DNA transfer occurs all the time. Anywhere you go, you leave behind your DNA. In the past, those samples were too small for testing to pick up, but now it is not.

Previously, to get a good sample, there had to be a good amount of DNA left at a scene. Because the sample size was large, it would not pick up general transfer DNA.

Now you need only a small sample, which opens the door to false results where transfer DNA becomes proof against you in a criminal case. For example.  you visited the crime scene at some point prior to the crime, which put your DNA there. Technicians collect DNA samples and tests show your DNA present, so the prosecution can easily build a case saying you were there at the time of the crime even though you were not.

The reality

Due to the sensitivity of today’s DNA testing, the accuracy of it has decreased. It is too easy to get false positives and to reach erroneous conclusions based upon this evidence.

For this reason, there are many people in prison currently who are there due to DNA evidence errors. Jurors do not understand the issues with DNA and how it could produce evidence that is not completely accurate. They tend to believe it and convict due to it.