Poking Holes in Forensic DNA Testing

The CACI grievance process can be painfully intimidating when you don’t understand what you’re up against.

You’re not living your life preparing to be falsely accused of a heinous crime. It only makes sense that you would be terrified to hear that there’s incriminating forensic DNA of yours in a police department or forensic lab.

If your familiarity with DNA is at a base level, you likely believe the DNA evidence is insurmountable.

Really though, this we can fight DNA evidence.

Forensics can very much go wrong and be used to the disadvantage of innocent people, like you. A legal team worth their salt will ensure this isn’t happening. Your defense team should investigate whether the multitudes of procedural requirements have been upheld by law enforcement to find out whether DNA sample will hold up under scrutiny.

You want to explore each individual angle involved in DNA testing. At the sign of the first error, you want to be able to exploit the government’s error in an effort to get your name off the Child Abuse Central Index.

What Are the Predominant Problems That Exist in DNA Testing?

An article titled, “Understanding Recent Problems in Forensic DNA Testing,” explains how one of the primary problems in the field is with mislabeling and cross-contamination. (See William C. Thompson, The Champion, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Jan/Feb 2006.) It’s happened with alarming frequency in places such as North Carolina, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and – yes – California.

One alarming example cited in the article involved a private lab that was hired to retest DNA evidence that was ruined by the Houston Police Department’s crime lab.

Ironically, the lab responsible for this retesting managed to mix up the samples, leading to false matches. Accidental transfers between samples from separate cases have led to incorrect results as well.

In some cases, it can come down to outright deception that leads to a DNA sample being scientifically disproven. Even FBI forensic scientists have been caught falsifying reports of control samples meant to detect cross-contamination.

Some Labs Aren’t Up to the Task

Many labs don’t adhere to the strict standards required to maintain the integrity of DNA samples. There’s a lack of consistency with the quality and stringency of these institutions throughout the nation.

In some instances, these places don’t even have contamination logs, a guideline issued by the FBI. These journals are meant to record the corrective processes followed when mistakes have been made with the samples.

Fortunately, some labs do follow this suggested procedure, and defense lawyers have been shocked to see the frequency of mistakes.

There was a lab in California that only handled around 1000 samples per year, which is a meager volume. In 18 months, the following discrepancies occurred:

  • A mother’s reference sample was contaminated with her child’s DNA
  • Control samples (with no DNA) were found positive for DNA
  • An analyst’s DNA contaminated a sample
  • Mislabelling and switching occurred several times
  • The DNA from two samples was combined

These are only a few of the mistakes occurring in one small lab. These instances alone are reasons enough for you to always push back against DNA evidence being used against you by a false accuser.

Why Are These Mistakes So Scary?

As pointed out in the article cited above, if these mistakes and instances of contamination are what’s being recorded, they could only be the tip of the iceberg. After all, these are the accidents that the scientists and technicians noticed.

What about the discrepancies that slip past the not-so-watchful eyes of some of these individuals?

While these instances were all corrected, they also reflect what can happen when errors are undetected. For example, the article explains that a suspect’s DNA could be transferred to a blank control sample. The error wouldn’t be obvious because the subject is already the source of the evidentiary DNA.

The chances are that errors incriminating a suspect won’t be noticed and will be used to support a false allegation of child abuse.

Laboratories believe that the recorded errors are proof that they’re catching mistakes, but this is likely a sign that more mistakes are being made than what meets the eye.

Defense Attorneys Are the #1 Advocate Against Poor Forensic Practices

Are you in a legal battle that involves incriminating DNA evidence?

It’s up to your defense team to demand full disclosure, no matter how challenging it might be. You’ll then want the help of an independent expert to assess the records.

It’s through that kind of attention to detail and catching every little mistake, that you can rid yourself of the cloud of these false accusations from your life.