Is forensic evidence and testimony perfect?

On Behalf of | May 28, 2015 | Federal Crimes |

Many people are under the impression that testimony regarding forensic evidence is infallible. They believe that if a so-called expert testifies that bite marks, hair samples and other types of forensic evidence are clear proof tying someone to a crime, then it must be true.

However, the assumption that this data is perfect is not only inaccurate, it can destroy a person’s life if he or she is convicted of a crime based solely or primarily on that piece of evidence. Readers may be very surprised to learn that, according to a report by The Washington Post, a huge number of cases involving federal forensic testimony involve flawed testimony.

The report investigated forensic testimony from more than 260 federal trials where testimony was given by one of 28 FBI examiners. In a whopping 95 percent of the cases, investigators found that testimonies regarding hair samples were misleading and favored the prosecution’s case against a person.

Reports indicate that examiners routinely overstated their findings. Examiners would testify that hair samples collected were a near-certain match to a defendant’s, even though such information was based on incomplete or inaccurate data. 

These statements led people to believe testimony regarding hair samples and matches were perfect. When juries are told that there is scientific evidence that supports a perfect match to a defendant, they typically won’t find reason to question how accurate the information is, especially when it is presented by members of the FBI. But as this report revealed, just because an FBI examiner says something is true doesn’t mean it necessarily is true. 

The report on this troubling revelation went on to say that 32 people received a death sentence based on the misleading testimony and more than a dozen of these people have died since being convicted.

The fact that this not only can happen but does happen at such an alarming rate should serve as a strong reminder of why it can be so crucial to have a criminal defense attorney by your side if you are facing federal charges. Prosecutors, alleged witnesses and even law enforcement agents can be biased against a defendant, so having someone protect your interests and rights can be essential.


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