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When forensic evidence is unreliable

On Behalf of | Aug 18, 2021 | Criminal Defense

If you live in North Carolina and are facing criminal charges, the prosecution might have forensic evidence against you. You might assume that this means you will struggle to be found not guilty, but forensic evidence is not as reliable as some may assume it is.

Forensic evidence errors

First, there can be errors in how forensic evidence is gathered and stored that taints it. It could be mislabeled or contaminated at some point. However, even forensic evidence that is handled correctly may not be reliable. According to a study that will appear in the Alabama Law Review, nearly one-quarter of wrongful convictions were based on faulty forensic evidence.

Drawbacks of forensic science

The study says that the field of forensic science has several structural problems that make it less reliable. One of them is that unlike other fields, which focus on peer review and replication of research, the focus in forensic science is on closing a case. This can mean that it may prize getting things done quickly over the accuracy that other branches of science prioritize.

Problems with reform

According to the researcher, while forensic science may appear to be a neutral approach to dealing with evidence, many jurors may unfortunately lack the scientific background that is needed to accurately evaluate claims raised in a trial. National standards are not consistent, and the forensics tend to be used primarily in the service of the prosecution. Attempts at reform have not proved particularly successful, in part because of a lack of action.

With this in mind, one potential approach to your defense might be examining the forensic evidence and the ways in which it could mislead a jury. You might want to talk to your attorney about what strategies might be used in your defense in regards to this evidence. This could involve raising questions about its quality, accuracy, handling and interpretation.