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The rights of defendants to challenge junk science

On Behalf of | Mar 11, 2021 | Criminal Defense

While science has accepted DNA testing as a generally valid form of evidence for all types of criminal cases, absolute accuracy is not always present. There have been multiple criminal cases where defendants have been convicted based solely on the evidence of DNA testing. Since this past thing is still susceptible to human error, those being accused of crimes in New Jersey and around the country are starting to question the science behind this form of evidence.

How DNA is presented in court

When DNA is brought up as evidence in a court case, most of the time, it’s presented without the actual individuals present who did the DNA testing. This hinders the ability of the defendant’s criminal defense attorney to cross-examine the individual people who actually tested the DNA samples. With the ability of human error to skew the test results, it’s difficult to pinpoint whether or not human error was present when the person doing the testing is not there for the court case.

Typically only one team member must be present

DNA testing requires six separate steps to be performed. Most labs have a different specialist for each step. This means that six different lab specialists will be handling the DNA testing for an individual court case. Typically, only one person from the lab shows up for questioning at trial. This hinders the ability of the defendant to directly cross-examine the five other people who worked on the sample to determine if there was human error in the process.

DNA testing has been in the spotlight recently due to the fact that people have identified faults in this type of testing. The above two reasons are just some of the many that defendants are presenting as a problem in criminal cases that include DNA testing as evidence. Only time will tell whether or not DNA testing will continue to be trusted as a form of evidence.