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Defenders Of The Accused
Matthew Radefeld & Dan Juengel

Are all forensic testing methods reliable?

| Sep 30, 2019 | Violent Crimes |

There are many types of evidence that can be submitted in a criminal trial, including the results from scientific testing. A wide-range of scientific methods are used to gain information from the evidence collected at the crime scene. The problem lies in the fact that not all forensic testing methods are scientifically validated. That means that the tests are not proven to yield accurate and reliable results. This can potentially lead to the wrong person being convicted of a crime he or she did not commit. 

The Innocence Project reports that over 360 people in the United States have been released from their prison sentences after further DNA testing of the evidence used in their cases showed they were not linked to the crime. In a surprising 45% of those cases, the misapplication of forensic testing was used in the case.

Forensic science can be altered or misused in several ways. The lab technicians performing the tests may make a mistake or may alter the test results on purpose. Furthermore, the tests being performed may not give reliable results. These tests include the following:

  • Tire tread mark comparisons

  • Microscopic hair follicle analysis

  • Reading fire burns in arson cases

  • Comparative bullet lead analysis 

In some cases, the representative presenting test results as evidence in court could skew the information or present it in a light that alters the jurors or judge’s decision. The person presenting evidence could have a biased view of the case as well. All of these factors could lead to the wrongful conviction of an innocent person. 

This information is intended to educate and should not be taken as legal advice.