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DNA Evidence and Its Use in the US Criminal Law Essay

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Updated: Aug 7th, 2020

The Role of the Supreme Court

The presumption of innocence is a rather common notion for the persons who are accused or suspected by the US criminal justice system. Moreover, the government tends to limit law enforcement in terms of gathering evidence by means of the Constitution (Marion & Oliver, 2012). The tough part about this is the interconnection between the privacy-related issues addressed by the US Constitution and the necessity to issue a warrant. This leads to complex legal battles over this matter, but the Supreme Court of the United States is the ultimate instance where judges decide whether the ruling is constitutional or not. The Supreme Court is responsible for allowing law enforcement officers to collect DNA evidence and for specifying the way they are supposed to do it (Gaines, 2014). When the issue of collecting DNA evidence at a crime scene was discussed, there was no consensus among judges. The final ruling of the Supreme Court claimed that the law enforcement agency does not necessarily have to issue a warrant to obtain a DNA sample from the designated individual (regardless, this should be a grave crime committed based on a credible reason). Needless to say, in a vast number of cases, this approach tends to disdain constitutional principles and can be called illegitimate (Gaines, 2014). The concluding statement of the Supreme Court of the United States defined the procedure of obtaining DNA samples as a procedure identical to taking fingerprints or taking pictures of the crime scene.

The Impact of DNA Evidence on the Court’s Decisions

The impact of DNA evidence on judicial practice is rather intense. The technology of collecting and processing it is expected to evolve majorly and help the Supreme Court even more (Carmen & Hemmens, 2016). The databases are being filled with more and more DNA samples annually. This leads to the ability to predict and prevent numerous crimes relying merely on the DNA samples. Another way in which DNA samples impacted the Supreme Court’s decisions is the ability to match the obtained DNA evidence to the existing samples from the database. On some occasions, this methodology helped to identify an array of previously convicted offenders. For instance, DNA testing methodology proved that the man accused of rape and murder has an instance of rape in his criminal record (Gardner & Anderson, 2016). He was proven guilty and convicted based on the obtained DNA sample

The Issues of Using DNA Evidence

It is safe to say the use of DNA evidence became one of the most effective forensic techniques to solve and prevent numerous crimes in the United States of America. Nonetheless, several issues transpired throughout the process of using DNA evidence in criminal investigations (Siegel, 2017). First, numerous forensic laboratories are packed with an excessive number of uninvestigated DNA samples. Second, the technical equipment at the majority of these laboratories is either outdated or low-end. This does not help the lab workers to handle the flood of unanalyzed DNA samples and other significant evidence (Siegel, 2017). The inability to process the samples hastily leads to critical issues in the criminal justice processes due to the constant postponements. Consequently, all-inclusive research should be conducted so as to review the existing methods of DNA sample processing and identify the approaches that could improve the current state of affairs (Siegel, 2017). Fourth, the development of innovative and effective methods of DNA sample processing requires additional training. The ultimate objective is to certify the most efficient way to process the evidence and support the victims. Nonetheless, the biggest problem of collecting DNA evidence consists of the fact that it has to abolish partiality, but an in-depth analysis exposes subjectivity of all kinds (Siegel, 2017). Unfortunately, DNA samples are processed by the individuals whose training levels are different and their ethical and professional standards vary significantly.

The Impact of DNA Evidence on Social Justice

The biggest problem connected to DNA evidence is the excessive amount of DNA samples that are naturally not processed by the lab workers due to the lack of time. The amount of unanalyzed DNA samples adversely impacts not only criminal justice but social justice as well (Carmen & Hemmens, 2016). An untimely analysis of the evidence may find an innocent individual guilty and vice versa. The tragic consequences of this limitation cannot be mitigated at the current stage of the DNA processing methodology development. The majority of US citizens consider that obtaining DNA evidence is unlawful and unfair. Regardless, almost half of those citizens claim that implementing DNA samples into the investigation process is effective (Gardner & Anderson, 2016). It is safe to say that DNA analysis is a powerful tool that is yet to be studied and forensic experts will have to come up with a strategy that will allow them to process DNA samples quicker. Until then, this legal tool seems to generate bigotry and criminal justice tailbacks.

References

Carmen, V. R., & Hemmens, C. (2016). Criminal procedure: Law and practice. Boston, MA: Cengage.

Gaines, L. K. (2014). Homeland security: A new criminal justice mandate. In S. L. Mallicoat & C. L. Gardiner (Eds.), Criminal justice policy (pp. 67-87). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Gardner, T. J., & Anderson, T. M. (2016). Criminal evidence: Principles and cases. Boston, MA: Cengage.

Marion, N. E., & Oliver, W. M. (2012). The public policy of crime and criminal justice (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Siegel, L. J. (2017). Criminology: Theories, patterns and typologies. Boston, MA: Cengage.

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