Legal Issues

Lawyers will always find something to dispute in their case, whether it's motives, truthfulness of information, or improperly gathered evidence. Ever since DNA evidence has been used in the United States, people have been questioning its reliability and usefulness. Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld were two of the most notable disputers of DNA evidence (with O.J. Simpson's case), though they also were perhaps its most fervid supporters (they began the Innocence Project, which relies on DNA evidence to prove the innocence of arrestees on death row) [7].

The main goal of forensic investigators is to find the hard facts. Therefore, the process of uncovering and deciphering evidence in the lab is crucial. Items retrieved from a crime scene could be difficult to use in a trial as certain evidence because people could dispute the relevance of the items to the case. Forensics figures out how to deal with and gather information from such items. For every new piece of material, it is important for forensic technicians to use the correct tools and know how to perform proper techniques that won't contaminate the evidence.  Mess up in the lab, and the criminal could walk free. This is how O.J. Simpson was declared innocent: there were no protocols for forensics DNA fingerprinting in a laboratory and so doubt was placed on the DNA evidence and analysis.

Ethical/Social Issues

DNA is increasingly playing a major role in solving criminal cases. DNA profiles have been utilized in proving both innocence and guilt. Recently a new type of genetic profiling, called Forensic DNA Phenotyping (FDP), has been developed. As its name suggests, it can indicate a person's physical characteristics based on his or her DNA. FDP can be useful in helping police identify possible suspects, but it could cause a build-up in tension between police and certain racial groups. [22]

Since research has proven that DNA can now predict an individual's characteristic and possibly even his or her criminal activities, constitutional rights and freedom could be challenged. Do police try to catch or punish people before they even do anything wrong, just because their DNA indicates they have a certain predisposition? Or will potential murderers and rapists be ignored for the sake of freedom? 



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