Forensics in Criminal Justice Flawed
A massive review by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the Innocence Project has revealed that nearly every examiner in an FBI hair forensic unit gave flawed testimony in hundreds of cases leading to convictions. The results have led the Justice Department and FBI to acknowledge this problem existed for over two decades proceeding 2000. During this time, at least 32 defendants were sentenced to death, 14 of who have already been executed or died in prison.
While this testimony was flawed, this does not mean all those convicted were necessarily innocent; other testimony may have been offered to give evidence of guilt. Nonetheless, this revealing scandal has shed light on the problems of with evidence given during criminal trials.
Even when witnesses are experts, they may be relying on bogus or outdated science. According to the Innocence Project, this revelation has only further confirmed many of the problems with subjective, pattern-based forensic techniques often employed by law enforcement eager for a conviction.
Now that some of the convictions of innocent people sent to jail due to faulty, unscientific evidence are being overturned, there is hope for the thousands of other people who may have been wrongfully convicted using similar tactics. As more people are exonerated, those arrested in the future may have more hope of a fair trial.
Defendants Should Be Aware of Forensic Flaws Before Accepting a Plea Deal
According to new evidence, innocent defendants were sometimes convinced to take plea deals or tricked into confessing after being presented with such faulty evidence. Despite new developments disproving some of these less-than-scientific forensic evidence techniques, many are still being used by law enforcement against those accused of serious crimes.
With such catastrophic consequences of an unjust conviction, criminal defense lawyers across the U.S. have strongly advocated against the use of such tactics, yet they continue to be employed regularly. For this reason, defendants should be wary of any evidence law enforcement use to try to show that a conviction would be inevitable.
Unfortunately, even DNA evidence and more accurate forensic evidence can be flawed or tainted, which means that anyone accused of a crime due to such evidence should always have it examined and reviewed by an expert. Those who do not may find themselves in a similarly unfortunate group of victims in the future. If you have been arrested for a crime based on forensic evidence, you need to ensure your rights are protected and every measure possible is taken to ensure the evidence is not improperly used against you.
At Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC, we pride ourselves on knowing the most up-to-date information about police evidence and will fight to make sure you do not fall victim to anti-science claims. Call our Pittsburgh criminal defense lawyers at (412) 281-2146 today for a free consultation on your case and to find out how we may be able to help.