Last fall, we wrote about a revolutionary new method for evaluating deoxyribonucleic acid or DNA evidence, known as “rapid DNA.” At the time, we covered a couple of the basics: the two companies behind the technology, and we shared with you some privacy concerns that have been expressed by forensic scientists.
ANDE and Thermo Fisher Scientific created instruments that can test DNA in 90 minutes, a speed significantly faster than the current method utilized by law enforcement agencies. While the tech is expensive, carrying a price tag of up to $250,000, it may be worth it; the quicker agents can analyze specimens, the faster they can apprehend suspects of serious crimes.
Currently DNA analysis can take months or as long as year. In that time, victims are left waiting and wondering if their assailant will ever be arrested. Countless cases could be closed at an exponentially speedier pace with the introduction of rapid DNA testing.
Rapid DNA Leads to Quick Arrests
A 29-year-old woman’s rape assailant was apprehended in weeks because the Kentucky State Police laboratory was testing rapid DNA, according to NBC News. Even though the case still hasn’t gone to trial, it’s an example of the future of DNA testing.
We must point out that judges do not allow rapid DNA evidence to be used by prosecutors at trial, currently. So, while the new technology can bring in suspects much faster than the old tech, laboratories still must go through the time-consuming process of testing the old way for trial purposes. Moreover, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) urges caution, even though ANDE and Thermo Fisher Scientific continue to try and sell their devices to local law enforcement agencies.
The reason judges haven’t signed off on rapid DNA stems partly from concerns from privacy advocates, according to the article. Defense lawyers and some crime laboratory officials have voiced their concerns too; they say there are risks that technology could lead to both mistakes and abuse.
Errors, like false hits, make it hard for suspects to overcome a presumption of guilt, says Terri Rosenblatt, the supervisor of the DNA unit at the Legal Aid Society in New York. Rape kits involve mixtures of multiple people’s DNA. Rosenblatt points out that rapid DNA has not been proven reliable with testing admixtures of DNA.
“This blunt-force instrument that is designed to get results fast, especially with sexual assaults, is problematic,” said Rosenblatt.
OC Criminal Defense Attorney
Please reach out to the Law Office of Ronald G. Brower for a consultation if you or someone you care about is charged with a crime. Attorney Brower’s extensive experience in criminal defense makes him the ideal candidate to advocate for your family in California. 714-997-4400