The Importance of DNA in Criminal Defense
If you have ever watched crime shows on television such as “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” or “Cold Case,” you have more than likely heard the characters discussing DNA evidence. While these shows make collecting, processing, and using DNA evidence to track down suspects look easier than it is in reality, DNA does play a significant role in many criminal cases. The following is a brief explanation of how DNA evidence can help in criminal defense.
What is DNA Evidence?
DNA stands for Deoxyribonucleic Acid and is unique to every person (with the exception of identical twins), like a fingerprint. DNA can be found in skin cells, hair, saliva, tears, sweat, blood, and semen. If a criminal leaves any of this biological material behind at a crime scene, forensic labs may collect this evidence and analyze the DNA. If the DNA matches that of a suspect or any in the DNA database, it can help a prosecutor secure a conviction.
However, DNA evidence can help an experienced criminal defense attorney avoid a wrongful conviction, as well. First of all, an attorney will look to see if collection of your DNA violated your rights. Police officers do not have the power to collect DNA samples from anyone they like. Illinois law sets out the specific instances in which DNA may be collected, if:
- A person consents to submission of a DNA sample;
- A person is convicted or found guilty of a felony;
- A person is convicted or found guilty of any offense requiring state sex offender registration;
- A person is institutionalized due to the Sexually Dangerous Persons Act;
- The court has issued an order for a person to provide a DNA sample; or
- A person has been arrested and indicted for first degree murder, criminal sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual assault, predatory criminal sexual assault of a child, or home invasion.
If police took your DNA without your consent and none of the above instances apply, they likely violated your rights and your attorney will fight to keep that evidence out of court.
You attorney will also investigate the processing of the DNA sample to try to identify any mistakes the forensic lab may have made. Your attorney can also conduct DNA analysis via a third-party lab to make sure all results are accurate.
Finally, if DNA evidence does not match, that is strong evidence that your attorney can present to show that someone else is guilty of the crime besides you. These are only some examples of ways in which a defense attorney can use DNA evidence to help you.
Contact an Experienced Chicago Defense Lawyer for a Free Consultation
If you are facing criminal charges, you should consult with defense attorney Steven Goldman as soon as possible. Identifying violations of your rights or appropriate defenses for your case requires thorough understanding of Illinois law and criminal procedure. For this reason, it is unlikely you will receive the best outcome possible if you try to handle a case on your own. Do not hesitate to call Goldman & Associates for help today.