The Impact of DNA on Criminal Investigations
Science has become a very valuable tool for law enforcement. scientific evidence is used every day in criminal and civil courts throughout the United States; helping to Solve particularly difficult cases where all other investigative techniques have failed, provide clues where there are no witnesses, reduce the number of wrongful arrests, increase the reliability of evidence. Link together cases that otherwise could not be connected, such as local cases ranging from breaking and entering to homicide, multijurisdictional cases such as gang crimes, serial sexual assaults or murders, and major international investigations. DNA profiling can also be used effectively to convict the guilty and exonerate the innocent. Since the introduction of DNA evidence, it has played a key role in the investigation of numerous crimes; police now rely on DNA analysis to provide intelligence that was previously unavailable. The compelling evidentiary value of this technology has resulted in an increased expectation of impartial scientific evidence in the courts. It has been used as a part of impartial reviews of post conviction cases, and its convincing discriminatory ability has been instrumental in demonstrating support for exonerations and convictions alike. The judicious application of forensic science early in an investigation can lead to the development of investigative information that can save money, time, and resources for police agencies. The whole investigative process can be shortened by the influence of such analysis on the direction of an investigation, by providing information that can be used to enhance conventional interrogative strategies and by limiting the contesting of the evidence in court. In many instances, trials are shortened or the need for a trial is eliminated altogether, further saving resources that can instead be deployed elsewhere, both for the police and the broader justice system. In instances of a guilty plea resulting from compelling evidence, the benefit is not limited to monetary savings: victims are spared the emotional burden of reliving the crime at trial. In the spring of 2003, 10-year-old Holly Jones went missing from her Toronto neighborhood. The day after her disappearance and over the next few days, parts of her dismembered body were located on the shores of Lake Ontario. These were identified by DNA typing. In addition, a foreign DNA profile potentially belonging to the perpetrator was developed from fingernail scrapings. (The Impact of DNA on Policing: Past, Present, and Future
By Raymond J. Prime and Jonathan Newman, Centre of Forensic Sciences, Toronto, Ontario, Canada) The investigation of this case was a huge challenge for the Toronto Police Service; however, lead investigators recognized that forensic science could play a crucial role. Faced with the daunting task of door-to-door canvassing of hundreds of possible sex offenders and more than 2,000 tips from the general public, the traditional police investigation was considerably assisted by information provided by the forensic science laboratory. First, an examination of tapings of the victim by a trace evidence scientist provided the clue that the child had been in contact with a green carpet. During the door-to-door canvassing by front-line police officers armed with this information, a potential suspect was identified. After this person refused to volunteer a DNA sample, undercover police surveillance facilitated the collection of a discard DNA sample for comparison to the foreign DNA profile that had been developed. The profiles matched, the suspect was arrested, and his apartment was searched. DNA analysis revealed traces of the victim’s blood. Faced with the evidence, the suspect confessed and entered a guilty plea. Prior to the development of DNA analysis, it was not uncommon, especially in cases of sexual assault that caused considerable anxiety to...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document