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Challenging the prosecution: DNA evidence in violent crime cases

On Behalf of | Apr 21, 2024 | Criminal Defense

West Virginia prosecutors, like their counterparts nationwide, depend on powerful evidence to secure convictions for violent crimes like murder or assault. During a trial, this evidence is presented to a jury for careful consideration.

While DNA testing has become a cornerstone of forensic science, its perceived infallibility can be misleading. Still, studies show that DNA evidence carries significant weight with jurors, potentially influencing their decisions. Fortunately, this reliance on DNA presents an opportunity a skilled representative can use to challenge its validity.

Why challenge DNA evidence?

If you are facing charges of wrongdoing, know that anything your defense team can do to reduce evidence against you can improve your chances of securing a favorable outcome. Raising doubt about DNA may sway juror perception to your benefit – having it suppressed could mean jurors never knew it existed. Some of the most common reasons why this kind of evidence may be suppressed include:

  • DNA is a fragile, easily-transferable molecule. Even tiny amounts of outside DNA transferred through contact or mishandling can contaminate a sample.
  • Chain of custody issues. Maintaining a meticulous chain of custody is crucial for ensuring the integrity of evidence. Sloppy handling of DNA can create opportunities for contamination.
  • Improper testing procedures. Human error or faulty equipment in the lab can produce inaccurate DNA results. Questionable testing procedures can also cast doubt on the findings.
  • Alternative interpretations. DNA analysis can be complex, and different interpretations are possible. False positives and negatives can also occur.

A savvy defense representative can call out the handling or interpretation of biological evidence, possibly weakening the prosecution’s case.

The takeaway

Yes, DNA is indeed strong evidence that can capture a juror panel’s attention, but overcoming it may not be as difficult as you believe. A comprehensive strategy that prepares you to meet prosecutor allegations can help to ensure that you are ready for your time in court.