How reliable is forensic evidence?

Miscellaneous

 

How reliable is forensic evidence?

 

It is called ‘The CSI Effect’ and it is playing a vital role on the reliability of forensic evidence. For years crime serials have shown forensic evidence as a key player in solving grim murders or crimes. It has raised the bar of reliance by jurors and resulted in unrealistic expectations.

How reliable is forensic evidence?

Unfortunately, reality is not that simple as shown on TV. Forensic evidence is much more complex and often inconclusive. It is a surprising truth that all the evidence gathered from a crime scene like blood, finger prints, hair etc. falls under circumstantial evidence. And circumstantial evidence requires thorough scientific research and interpretation to prove guilt.

Forensic evidence is not limited to blood and fingerprints. It includes fire analysis, voice recognition, bite marks, firearms, bullets and ballistic identification. DNA evidence is the most reliable evidence. Since its discovery in 1984 by Alec Jeffery, a British genetic, DNA evidence has been widely used to incriminate accused and exonerate the ones wrongly convicted. All other evidences have proved to be questionable, over the years. The most prominent one will be the case of Oregon lawyer Brandon Mayfield who was convicted of terrorist bombing in Madrid that killed 200 people. The conviction relied on the partial fingerprint forensic evidence found at the scene. It was later found that the forensic investigators had made a serious error in determining the identity of the accused. It was actually an Algerian man named Daoud Ouhnane.

It has been proven over the years that forensic evidence can be considered as a part of a case and not as whole case. Complete reliability can cause adverse consequences and the innocent can be convicted. Even DNA evidence have proved to be wrongly interpreted. The famous Australian cases like Button case, Mallard case and Farah Jama case have shown the miscarriage of justice due to high reliance on DNA evidence. The accuracy of the evidence depends on the collection, handling, retention and test carried out on the evidence. Any errors on any procedure can alter the results.