Legal: Use of Dna Evidence

DNA evidence is a widely used tool in the NSW criminal justice system that aims to help achieve justice. DNA, short for deoxyribonucleic acid, is a long molecule found within the cells of the human body. Each cell contains genetic material in which, apart from identical twins, is exclusive to every individual. DNA though considered a reliable piece of evidence can present many issues in the criminal justice system such as its influence on juries, the issue of maintaining the balance of an individual’s rights with the state’s responsibilities and the issues of DNA contamination, storage and interpretation. These issues will be discussed later.
Firstly, DNA is predominantly used in the criminal justice system to achieve justice; justice being the fair and equal treatment of all people under the law. Dr Zakaria Erzinçlioglu (2006, p. 14) states that “the techniques of forensic science are the techniques of reconstructing the past.” The ability to reconstruct the past enables the jury and the judge to properly establish the guilt or innocence of the accused with supporting evidence.
In the Crimes (Forensic Procedures) Act 2000 (NSW), this legislation aims to regulate the manner in which forensic samples are obtained and ensures the state’s responsibility to enforce the law does not impinge on an individual’s rights for e.g. their right to privacy. The Act allows for select police powers to undertake forensic procedures on suspects, offenders and volunteers and also allows for further investigations in cases to be made which can be later used as evidence in trials.
A type of procedure that is most commonly presented in trials is DNA profiling. DNA profiling is a type of identification testing. The testing uses DNA samples taken from suspects or the crime scene to generate a person’s profile. A match can therefore statistically prove the likelihood of that sample’s relation to the suspect or crime scene.
For example, in the Desmond Applebee case, the first...