In the past couple of decades, the science of Deoxyribonucleic Acid, more commonly known as DNA, has made leaps and bounds, bringing the concept of DNA into the mainstream consciousness. DNA has also become a common, and often extremely useful tool, in criminal prosecutions for a wide variety of crimes. Sex crimes investigations and prosecutions, in particular, have benefitted significantly from the advances in the science of DNA. Although DNA is frequently used in a sex crime prosecution, it is certainly not necessary for the State of California to have DNA evidence in order to convict you of a sex crime.
DNA is a nucleic acid that contains genetic information. Everyone has DNA and everyone’s DNA is unique. DNA can be found in blood, semen, saliva, hair, or skin scrapings, all of which are commonly left (unintentionally) at a crime scene by a perpetrator. In a sex crime, it is not uncommon to find several, if not all, of these pieces of evidence on the body of the victim or at the scene of the crime. DNA can be extracted from extremely small amounts of what is referred to as “trace evidence”, making DNA a valuable tool for investigators.
If a suitable sample is found on a victim or at a crime scene, a forensics lab will test the sample for DNA. No two DNA “signatures” are the same, unless the two people are twins, adding to the value of DNA found at a crime scene. Once the DNA signature has been extracted, it can be input into a national database to search for a known match. It can also be used to compare with a specific sample, such as that of a suspect. If a DNA match is found, it can be very damning for the defense; however, no single piece of evidence ensures a conviction in any criminal prosecution.
While the presence of matching DNA is a sex crimes prosecution is certainly powerful ammunition for the prosecution, it is not required to prosecute a suspect. People were convicted of sex crimes and sent to prison for those crimes for decades prior to the discovery of DNA and its forensic uses. Of course, the absence of DNA in a sex crime case works in your favor if you are a suspect. If DNA was recovered and it does not match your DNA, that is even better news for you and your defense.
If you have been charged with a sex crime in San Diego, or you feel you are a target of an investigation, contact an experienced San Diego sex crimes defense attorney right away to ensure that your rights are protected.
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