Using DNA in Criminal Trials
DNA evidence is extremely helpful in criminal trials not only because it can determine the guilt of a suspect, but also because it can keep innocent people from going to jail. The suspect must leave a sample of their DNA at the crime scene in order for testing to occur, but DNA can be found in the form of many things such as semen, blood, hair, saliva, or skin scrapings. According to Newsweek, "thousands of people have been convicted by DNA's nearly miraculous ability to search out suspects across space and time… hundreds of innocent people have also been freed, often after years behind bars, sometimes just short of the death chamber" (Adler ). Though some may think it is a waste of time to go back and attempt to release convicts from prison after they have been in jail for such a long time, but since DNA testing had proven to be quite a successful method of doing this, it could help in many ways. First of all, if a person is not guilty of a crime they are in prison for committing, they have every right to attempt to prove their innocence. A great advantage to releasing these innocent people from prison is that they allow for more room in prisons for those who are actually guilty of the crimes.
Another reason people may object to DNA testing in the courtroom is that the tests require the suspect to provide a sample of his own DNA. The only problem with this is that sometimes, suspects refuse to donate their DNA for testing. In a situation in St. Petersburg, FL, a man was being followed because he allegedly matched the description of a man who was suspected of committing fifteen robberies and two rapes. As the police followed him on his motorcycle, he stopped at a red light and spat on the ground. As soon as the police saw this, they got out of the car and collected the saliva with a paper towel. The DNA from the saliva was a perfect match with the DNA from the semen collected from the rape victims. Puetz, the investigator on the case defends the constitutionality of his evidence-gathering methods; the courts, he says, have held that once you've put out your trash, you've waived your right to keep the contents private, and "I don't see why the same wont hold true for saliva."(Adler).
Because there are many different types of crimes, it is often difficult to find enough physical evidence to convict a person. For example, in rape cases there is usually only a small amount of physical evidence, so cases are based on word alone. Because of DNA testing we can now take samples from the victim and attempt to match the results with those of the suspect. Therefore, DNA is sometimes the only real way of determining the guilt or innocence of a suspect without having any witnesses. Since many rape cases are left unsolved, DNA testing is believed to be the most accurate way of keeping sex offenders off the street. Because of the growing trend of using DNA in rape cases especially, a company in...