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DNA evidence and child rape: Samples not unassailable

DNA. We have all heard of the term -- short for deoxyribonucleic acid -- but what exactly does DNA mean in your criminal case? DNA plays a major role in a variety of criminal cases, from homicide to sexual abuse. However, this type of scientific analysis is particularly useful when determining fault in cases of child rape and related violations. Today, we provide you with the information you need to understand your rights and options where DNA evidence is concerned.

What happens when DNA is found at a crime scene? First, forensic investigators collect the biological samples from the scene, preserving them using advanced scientific procedures. Almost any biological evidence will contain DNA, including hair, bodily fluids, blood and even fingernail clippings. However, crime scene technicians may not always have enough DNA evidence to even analyze, much less to tie someone to the scene of the crime.

After the evidence is collected, it is analyzed at a forensic laboratory. If the authorities already have a suspect in mind, they may seek to obtain that person's DNA. Criminal defendants should know that they are not necessarily required to relinquish their DNA simply because an officer makes the request. Instead, defendants may benefit from consulting their attorneys before allowing such a collection to occur.

DNA evidence is popular because of its low potential for error; in fact, a properly conducted analysis has only about a one in a billion chance of being wrong. DNA evidence is not impervious to criticism, however, as it can be mishandled or contaminated. Biological evidence has been known to be thrown out during criminal trials because of missteps during collection and analysis. Defendants who are facing allegations of sexual abuse should know that a DNA match is not necessarily a death knell for their criminal case.

Source: FindLaw, "How DNA Evidence Works" Sep. 29, 2014

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