Is forensic science always reliable?

If you have been charged with a crime in Kentucky, you may be attending a trial to determine whether you are guilty of the crime. At the trial, evidence that has been collected from the crime scene is often presented to the judge and/or jury. Although this evidence may have a major impact on the court’s final decision, studies show that the way evidence is processed may lead to inaccurate results. These inaccuracies could cause a person to be wrongfully charged with a crime they did not commit.

According to the Innocence Project, the misapplication of forensic science practices is the second leading cause of wrongful convictions in the U.S. Of the 349 people who have been exonerated from their prison sentences after being wrongfully convicted, 46 percent of the cases involved bad forensic science. In some cases, the methods of testing that are used to evaluate evidence have not been scientifically validated as reliable methods. For example, bite mark comparisons, shoeprint analysis and hair analysis have not been proven as reliable scientific methods of producing evidence.  

Furthermore, mistakes made by lab technicians or people who are gathering the evidence can lead to erroneous information. One small mistake made by a forensic scientist while processing a crucial piece of evidence may lead to inaccurate results. Mixing up samples or specimen contamination can occur in even the most prestigious laboratory settings. Sadly, tests can be misconducted on purpose to fabricate results, or indicate findings that are not actually true.

This information is intended to educate and should not be taken as legal advice.  

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