What is the problem with forensic testing?

When a crime occurs, evidence is collected and ran through a series of forensic testing methods in hopes of linking a suspect to a case. The results of the testing are then presented to the judge and jury presiding over the case in hopes of providing a better picture of what happened at the crime scene. The problem lies in the fact that not all results provided through scientific testing methods are accurate and some are extremely unreliable. They are presented to the judge and jury, however, as if they are valid and the people who determine whether the defendant is innocent or guilty may base their decision off erroneous information.

All of the methods used to test evidence are not proven to be scientifically valid. That means that testing procedures, such as bite mark comparison, hair follicle analysis and shoe print analysis do not provide consistent and accurate results. Furthermore, the way in which the results are presented to the court may affect the outcome of the case as well. The analysts could exaggerate the results of the test, fail to tell the jury error rate of the methods used or use wording that may lead to misinterpretation of the results.

It is important to keep in mind that mistakes can be made, as lab technicians and analysis are human. A simple error made during a scientific test could lead to bad results, which may be presented to the court. In some situations, the results may be intentionally falsified as well.

This information is intended to educate and should not be taken as legal advice.

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