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Misuse of forensic science can lead to wrongful convictions

For years, legal professionals have used forensic science to prosecute criminals who have committed violent crimes. Sadly, the science used to prove suspects’ guilt has also been used to incriminate innocent people. Many cases are built around the results obtained from certain forensic testing methods of evidence found at the crime scene. The problem lies in the fact that some testing methods have not been scientifically validated to yield accurate or reliable results. These tests include the following:

  • Shoe print comparison

  • Hair follicle analyzing

  • Tire print analysis

  • Comparative bullet lead analysis

  • Reading of burn marks in arson cases

While some of these tests at one time were thought to provide accurate findings, newer research shows that they can provide wrong results in some cases. 

According to the Innocence Project, misused forensic science was involved in 45% of cases that were overturned after DNA evidence proved the person convicted of committing the crime was actually innocent. In some cases, the way the scientific results were presented to the jury or judge were thought to be misleading. Lab technicians and scientists may make errors when conducting certain tests, leading to bad results as well. Yet, these results may be presented in court as accurate and reliable findings. 

In addition to bad results obtained from the misuse of forensic tests, lab technicians and scientists may intentionally mess up the testing to alter results. All of the test results presented in court have a direct impact in the incrimination of the suspect on trial. When the person is innocent, it may contribute to their wrongful conviction.

 

 

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