DNA testing has revolutionized the way that crimes are solved since its inception. Through its use within law enforcement, those accused of certain crimes can be identified and charged accordingly by matching DNA found at crime scenes to the suspect's DNA. Additionally, innocent people can be exonerated of crimes based on the fact that their DNA does not match what was found on the victim or at a crime scene. Specifically with regards to sexual crimes, the advances in DNA testing have led to many sexual predators being taken off the streets, and allowed others who have been accused but who are innocent a chance to walk free.
With advancements in technology, DNA testing continues to evolve. Newer and fasting testing machines are now being used across the country with the intent to speed up the criminal justice process of narrowing down suspects, charging appropriate offenders, and ensuring that those who are innocent of crimes do not spend unnecessary time behind bars.
What is CODIS?
Since the late 1980s, law enforcement agencies from local to the federal level have been using a national DNA database to help solve crimes. This database is called the Combined DNA Index System, or CODIS, and can be used by law enforcement at any level as an aid in solving crimes using existing DNA profiles. Crime scene evidence DNA can be compared against all the profiles stored in CODIS to search for a match already in the system, or even a link to a serial criminal who may have committed several crimes included in the profiles on the system.
All 50 states and the federal government have laws requiring that DNA samples be collected from certain categories of offenders to be uploaded to CODIS as a DNA profile.
Problems with DNA Tests in Criminal Cases
The biggest issue with the current DNA testing system is a backlog of DNA samples that must be tested, especially with regards to sexual abuse kits. It can take several weeks for some testing to be completed and a match to be found or not. This is time that someone who is accused but innocent may have to wait to be exonerated, and/or the real offender walks around free.
New Legislation for Faster DNA Testing
President Donald Trump recently signed new bipartisan legislation aimed at helping law enforcement by allowing real-time DNA testing to be performed at the local law enforcement level. These faster machines will shorten the time required for DNA testing to be completed by allowing local agencies to perform the test in less than two hours in their local booking stations through new equipment. The results from these faster testing machines can be compared to the profiles in CODIS to match criminals with crimes. The "Rapid DNA Act" was introduced and supported by both Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. House & Senate.
Rapid DNA Testing Machines on Miami Beach
The Miami Beach Police Department recently started using one of these rapid DNA testing machines. It has already linked a suspect to a shooting over Memorial Day Weekend, and has been used to connect a hit-and-run driver to the car used in the crime. Though these machines can quickly link a suspect to a crime scene, DNA samples will still be sent to the county to be analyzed for use in criminal proceedings resulting from a crime.
If you have been accused of a crime, it's extremely important that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. Your attorney will understand the law and the evidence against you, and can assist you with your case.
Murray, J. (n.d.). Miami Beach Police Department Using Rapid DNA Testing Machine To Solve Crimes. Retrieved August 28, 2017, from http://miami.cbslocal.com/2017/08/16/miami-beach-police-rapid-dna-testing/?e=jYyQnfCldQCGAg&utm_source=email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=11424&utm_campaign=daily-news-headlines-recommended--43
ADVANCING JUSTICE THROUGH DNA TECHNOLOGY: USING DNA TO SOLVE CRIMES. (n.d.). Retrieved August 28, 2017, from https://www.justice.gov/archives/ag/advancing-justice-through-dna-technology-using-dna-solve-crimes
Trump Signs Bipartisan Bill For Faster DNA Testing To Solve Crimes. (n.d.). Retrieved August 28, 2017, from http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2017/08/22/trump-signs-bipartisan-rapid-dna-act-swalwell-feinstein/