DNA evidence is an invaluable asset to law enforcement agencies across the country. Microscopic genetic material can lead to the arrest of criminals who do their best to evade detection. Before the advent of DNA sequencing, detectives had to go to extraordinary lengths to meet the burden of proof. They often had to rely on eyewitness accounts or confessions to close a case, both of which can be unreliable.
In the 21st Century, detectives hope that perpetrators will leave behind genetic breadcrumbs, so they can be sure that the person being charged is the culprit. Advances in technology have made it easier to narrow down who was behind a crime.
As we’ve pointed out in previous posts, just because a suspect’s DNA is left behind at a crime scene does not mean that the case is closed. The “Golden State Killer” eluded authorities for years despite leaving genetic evidence behind at the scene of a crime. Finally, a technique called genetic genealogy and Americans’ desire to learn about their ancestry lead to an arrest.
Still, the process of analyzing genetic evidence is not fast; it can take months to conduct lab work and identify a suspect. The slow and tedious process could be significantly hastened thanks to a new device called “Rapid DNA,” The Los Angeles Times reports. The machine cuts down the time it takes to analyze DNA to about 90 minutes.
Solving Crimes and Privacy Concerns
Colorado-based ANDE and Massachusetts-based Thermo Fisher Scientific are the two companies leading the way with Rapid DNA, according to the article. The devices are already in use in California; Contra Costa, Sacramento, and Orange counties have the machines at their disposal. The Orange County district attorney’s office has had Rapid DNA for about five years.
Privacy advocates are concerned that police will test people without their informed consent, according to the article. Some forensic scientists worry that law enforcement will mishandle evidence and potentially compromise prosecutions.
“There is no question that getting faster DNA results is good for everyone in the criminal justice system,” said Lynn Garcia, general counsel of the Texas Forensic Science Commission. “But we have to be sure that any technology is ready for prime time and is reliable and that the people who are using it are trained.”
Orange County Criminal Defense Lawyer
Attorney Ronald Brower has more than three decades of experience practicing law in California. If you are facing legal challenges, please contact the Law Office of Ronald G. Brower to learn how we can advocate for you. 714-997-4400