There are various purposes of DNA testing. For instance, DNA testing plays a role in law enforcement. This view holds since DNA samples are often stored in law enforcement databases. In case of commission of crimes, samples are taken from the scenes, and tests are done to determine the culprits. Although this use is controversial, it remains popular among the authorities. DNA testing may thus be used in eliminating suspects in criminal cases while, at the same time, it is used to tell suspects who were present at the crime scene. The main concerns about DNA testing centre on ethical considerations.
DNA testing is also useful in providing information regarding paternity. In cases of a dispute concerning paternity of children, DNA testing is helpful. Similarly, DNA testing assists in deciding cases regarding child adoption, support, immigration as well as custody. Since DNA is a composition of parents’ genetic structure, estimation of parenthood is possible at roughly hundred per cent.
Apart from the purposes mentioned above, DNA testing plays a useful medical role. In this regard, DNA testing helps in providing risk assessments on the chances of a person being infected by given medical conditions (Nelson, 2010). For instance, by studying DNA of people who are affected by cancer, examiners are able to identify cancer prevalent genes. Hence, DNA testing is useful in preventing such conditions since medical practitioners are able to commence preventive cures before the conditions manifest themselves.
Shoester (2006) observed that from 1985, DNA testing has emerged as a reliable source of evidence from crime scenes. The British police were the first to convict a person based on evidence from a DNA test. Similarly, a year later, a man was convicted by a Virginia court after a DNA test linked him to the murder of Richmond. Twenty years on, DNA testing continues to play a crucial role in fighting crime.
The role of law enforcement in DNA testing is literally profound. Law enforcement has a high demand for evidence. In most instances, in order to secure a conviction, prosecutors have to prove cases against suspects beyond sensible doubt. Thus, prosecutors have an enormous demand of backing their cases by using solid evidence. Thus, the pursuit of measures to ensure that physical evidence is adduced when prosecuting suspects becomes critical. It is worth noting that law enforcement relies on the work done by prosecutors. Consequently, digging for evidence by prosecutors presents a significant boost to law enforcement. In this regard, the pursuit for physical evidence to incriminate suspects proved to be a vital factor contributing towards the developments registered in the field of DNA testing.
Equally discernable, people who commit crimes are more likely to repeat the same mistakes. The implication is that the justice system requires a mechanism to detect patterns among offenders. By way of illustration, criminal investigations reveal that criminals often hop from one place to another while committing crimes. Thus, the law enforcement arm of governments needed to come up with a mechanism to uncover repeated crimes alongside suspects. This requirement would have played a role towards enhancement of efforts to use DNA testing. The advancement in DNA testing in reference to identification purposes presented a historic breakthrough that came in the 1980’s. This development has been viewed similarly as the one on fingerprinting that was made in 1880’s.
The best evidence rule comes into play in DNA testing simply because of one reason. DNA testing has up to 99.9 percent accuracy. Consequently, contesting results of a DNA test would be futile. Hence, unlike testimonial evidence, which is subject to the burden of proof, DNA testing is the best form of physical evidence.
Formal Rules of Evidence
Rules of evidence relate to relevance or admissibility of evidence, requirements of witnesses and the role of hearsay. In regards to relevance, evidence is admissible in courts when it proves or disproves an aspect that relates to the case. However, not all relevant evidence is always admissible. For instance, a bench could expunge a section of valid evidence when it is deemed that such may misguide a trial. Equally, suspicion of prejudice may negate the use of relevant evidence. Relevance regulations also govern the character of evidence. In this case, past records of suspects play a role regarding admissibility questions.
Witnesses play a vital role in trials. Consequently, rules are required to guide the participation of witnesses in cases. In this regard, witnesses are only allowed to testify in cases where they have personal knowledge on the information to be disclosed. Additionally, if a witness needs an interpreter, the interpreter must take an oath to translate truthfully. This implies that the interpreter represents the actual testimony of a witness.
Hearsay is significant in trials as well. Hearsay refers to statements made by witnesses regarding issues being tried by courts. Additionally, hearsay relates to what a witness heard from a declarant. Hearsay remains inadmissible in courts. Despite this assertion, exceptions exist regarding the use of hearsay. For instance, excited utterances could be used. For illustrative purposes, if a robbery victim identifies his attacker while undergoing treatment and mentions it in excitement to a nurse, then the nurse could give such hearsay as evidence. However, hearsay is used when a declarant is unavailable to give a testimony.
In a trial situation, the rules of evidence take central stage. From the initial stage, the prosecution should collect relevant information regarding a case. Such information should pass the admissibility criterion. Secondly, the prosecution needs to line reliable witnesses for cases. In case of absent witnesses, then using hearsay is considered.
Prosecution follows arresting a suspect. Prosecutors need to weigh different factors such as strength of evidence and gravity of an offence before deciding to charge a person with an offence. As outlined in the rules of evidence, the prosecution must collect relevant information and get dependable witnesses before commencing criminal proceeding against a suspect.
Investigating crimes is a responsibility of the police. The primary role of investigation is to collect evidence that could help to identify and convict a suspect. In some instances, investigations may require search warranties. Hence, the police department is expected to satisfy set requirements before conducting a search. In this regard, probable cause is what the police need to obtain a search warrant.
Categories of Evidence
In practice, evidence is divided into two categories, testimonial and physical. Focus is on the statements that are made by witnesses or victims when referring to testimonial evidence. Testimonial evidence may be assumed as being authentic or documented. Examples of documentation include things that persons do. For instance, newsletters, test scores and lesson plans would provide documentary evidence regarding students’ work. On the other hand, physical evidence relates to tangible aspects such as fingerprints, hairs or biological materials. The physical evidence is based on the Locard’s Exchange Principle, which states that when an individual enters an environment, additions occur to it. Thus, every contact is traceable. Such contact applies to both humans and animals. Consequently, law enforcers are often taught to assume that evidence is always left behind at crime scenes. Developments in the field of science, especially in DNA testing, have contributed immensely to the use of physical evidence. A fundamental issue that emerges regarding physical evidence is that circumstances are critical in legal processes.