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DNA Test and Evidence

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A DNA test can be used as evidence in both criminal cases and family cases. The purpose of a DNA test is to determine whether sample DNA matches the DNA of the person on trial, whether in a paternity case or for a felony crime. DNA tests are considered to be over 99% reliable, and in some cases over 99.99% reliable depending on the types of testing conducted. Due to the unique properties of DNA and the reliability of DNA testing, DNA evidence has become a vital part of trying and convicting criminals or settling paternity disputes.

How is a DNA Test Used as Evidence in Family Law?

Traditionally, when paternity was disputed, a blood test could be administered to determine if the man in question was the father of the child. However, this was not 100% foolproof and could only conclusively rule out a potential father and not conclusively prove that a potential father was actually the father. With DNA testing, evidence can be presented to show with over 99% accuracy that a presumed father is actually the father or not.

How DNA Evidence Helps

Each person has his or her own unique genetic makeup.  This genetic makeup determines the sequence of DNA. DNA is found in every cell in our body. A person must get genes from one or both of their parents. As such, if two people have similar genes or similar genetic makeup, it is extremely likely - in fact certain - that they are related. So, in a family law case, a DNA test showing similarities between the DNA of the father and child can prove that the man is in fact the father.

How is a DNA Test Used as Evidence in Criminal Law?

Although DNA tests are used in family law, by far the most common application of DNA evidence is in criminal law, especially when a felony is committed. In a murder, rape or another felony, a criminal commonly leaves some type of evidence behind. This evidence could be as small as a fingernail, a piece of skin or a piece of hair. By analyzing these small fragments of cells that are left behind, a forensic scientist can determine the DNA profile or DNA fingerprint of the suspect.

How DNA Evidence Helps

This DNA fingerprint can be compared against the DNA profile of a particular suspect or run against a database of DNA profiles on file for those already convicted of a crime. It a match is found, it is over 99% likely that the person with the matching DNA is the person who perpetrated the crime. The results of this DNA test are usually sufficient evidence to get an indictment- which means to formally legally accuse a person of the crime and put them on trial. In many cases, DNA evidence is sufficient to get a conviction for a crime.

DNA Evidence and Convictions

DNA testing has changed the way criminal cases are prosecuted by allowing police and prosecutors to find strong and reliable evidence in many crimes. Even old past crimes have been able to be conclusively solved when DNA evidence was kept on file, by finding a match between the DNA at the crime scene and the DNA of a suspect. As DNA tests continue to become more reliable as technology advances, they are likely to become even more important evidence in solving crimes.

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