In recent years, the existence and submission of DNA evidence in criminal cases has dramatically changed how these cases are prosecuted and defended. DNA evidence is especially crucial in many sex crimes cases including those involving allegations of rape. Without such evidence, prosecutors often face the difficult task of convincing courts and jurors of the identity of those individuals alleged to have committed such crimes.
Colorado residents were recently shocked to learn that evidence in 48 sexual assault and rape cases was accidentally destroyed. The Aurora police department was forced to admit the error after learning that a police officer had accidentally destroyed crucial DNA evidence in 30 cases. In an additional 18 cases, police officers failed to follow protocol related to the preservation of such evidence and the DNA samples for these cases were also subsequently destroyed.
The errors made by these police officers are yet another example of how human errors and tampering with evidence can greatly impact the outcome of a criminal case. The guilt of individuals accused of crimes in which DNA evidence is submitted is often automatically assumed. This story, however, proves that such evidence is not 100 percent accurate and that errors occur that can render DNA evidence inadmissible in court.
Individuals who face criminal charges related to a sex crime such as sexual assault or rape would be wise to retain a criminal defense attorney. In cases where the prosecution plans to introduce DNA evidence, a criminal defense attorney may be able to introduce evidence that questions or disproves the validity of such evidence.
Source: The Denver Post, ”
Destruction of DNA evidence won’t stop investigations, Aurora DA says,” Jordan Steffen, June 27, 2013