DNA Errors and Prosecution

We’ve known for years that the FBI spoofs evidence, creates absurd scientific standards, and uses pseudoscience to convict defendants, but one thing that is sacrosanct in our legal system is DNA. Both prosecutors and defense attorneys love DNA because it (ostensibly) proves the truth of an accusation. But what if it wasn’t nearly as accurate as we’ve been led to believe? What if DNA evidence resulted in faulty convictions each year? What if DNA evidence wasn’t even strong enough to prove paternity?

DNA error results in paternity issue

During a custody battle, the court ordered a paternity test to determine if the couple’s twelve-year-old truly belonged to his father. The DNA test came back to reveal that there was a zero-percent chance that the two were related. This caused an incredible amount of turmoil in the family. A son had lost his father. A father had lost his son. It was only years later when a relative ordered an ancestry test that the father was genetically linked to his son. A second paternity test confirmed that there was a 99.9% likelihood that the boy and father were related. By then, 20 years had passed. The family has since filed a lawsuit against two companies involved in the original DNA testing 20 years ago.

So the question becomes: Why did a government-issued DNA test fail when an at-home kit was able to reveal that the two were, in fact, father and son? An attorney representing the family says that the two genetic profiles in each test are entirely different. He concludes that the lab actually mixed up the samples and tested someone else’s DNA to determine paternity. When it came back with a zero-percent likelihood of paternity, all parties in the dispute simply agreed with the lab’s findings and went about their lives, likely much more miserable than they had before.


Labs that do DNA testing don’t want to divulge the mistakes they make. If they divulge mistakes, this can be used against them in prosecutions and prosecutors will no longer feel secure in using their lab results at trial. This means their entire business model is destroyed. So these labs are playing their cards very close to their chest and it has been difficult for the public to access proprietary information related to their trade.

Meanwhile, DNA labs are not inspected by the government. If they were inspected by the government, that information would be public record. Instead, DNA labs are allowed to use private accreditation inspectors that allow them to keep the details of these reports private.

Prosecutors love it. They certainly don’t want a lab to be cited and then have a defense attorney file an appeal on that basis. It would undo all of the hard work they’ve done. Nonetheless, lab errors do occur and they may be more prevalent than we know. The DNA labs that are conducting these tests won’t willingly divulge that information to the public.

Talk to a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney

If the police are using DNA evidence to convict you, you may be interested to know that this evidence is not as strong as you likely believe. The West Palm Beach criminal attorneys at The Skier Law Firm, P.A. can help defend you from the charges using all the scientific knowledge at our disposal. Call today to learn more.


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