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What is DNA Evidence?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated May 21, 2024
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DNA evidence is data that is obtained from the use of DNA testing. Developed during the latter part of the 20th century, the process of using genetic material to connect individuals with a specific situation has been enhanced over the years and is now considered admissible evidence in many courts around the world. Evidence of this type has been used to solve crimes that had remained unsolved for a number of years, as well as provide a means for investigators to quickly identify and arrest criminals connected with recent crimes.

The collection of DNA evidence at a crime scene usually begins with the collection of objects that could have come in contact with some sort of body fluid. This can include items such as toothbrushes or drinking cups that may have traces of saliva lingering on them. In rape cases, forensics teams may collect semen or blood found on clothing or other fabrics found at the scene of the crime. As the forensic investigation continues, tests are run on the samples to create a profile of the genetic makeup of individuals who were at the scene.

In the case of a violent crime, such as murder or rape, it is a relatively easy process to identify the DNA profile that belongs to the victim. The remaining profiles can be used to eliminate suspects in the case, allowing law authorities to focus their attention on other clues that may help identify the perpetrator of the crime. When a solid suspect is identified, he or she is provided with the opportunity to offer a DNA sample using a simple swab that is used to collect saliva from the inside of the cheek. If the collected sample matches what has been identified as the DNA profile for the criminal, an arrest can be made.

The use of DNA evidence is not limited to criminal investigations. By collecting samples, it is possible to use the evidence to identify the paternity of a child. This makes this modern investigative tool helpful in establishing the identity of the birth father. While the application is often cited as a means of proving paternity in child support cases, this same application is sometimes used by fathers who suspect one or more of the children they have raised is not actually their own by lineage.

DNA evidence can also be utilized to determine other forms of familial connections. If viable samples are available, it is possible to use the evidence to confirm that someone claiming to be related to a family is indeed a blood relative. This application has proven helpful when individuals would lay claim to the estate of a deceased individual by virtue of being an illegitimate child of the deceased. DNA evidence can quickly determine if there is in fact some genetic connection present, or if the claim is false.

Whether used in a criminal trial or to settle some type of question about family connections, DNA evidence has made it much easier to establish the truth in many situations. In recent years, evidence of this type has been helpful in confirming that some people convicted of a crime were not actually guilty, while also leading to way to identifying the actual perpetrator of the crime.

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Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including All The Science, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.
Discussion Comments
By discographer — On Apr 16, 2014

DNA evidence is truly amazing. As the article said, not only can this evidence be used to see if the DNA of a criminal matches a suspect's, but blood relations can also be determined.

For example, let's say that DNA evidence of the criminal is collected at a crime scene where someone was murdered. Analysts can use this evidence later to compare it to the DNA of suspects. But they can also compare DNAs to determine if the criminal was a relative of the victim. For example, they could say that the criminal was a relative of the victim from his mother's side. That's a lot of clues to solve a case!

By fBoyle — On Apr 15, 2014

The use of forensic DNA as evidence has truly been a blessing for the justice system of all countries. There is less likelihood of making errors when there is DNA evidence showing that someone is guilty or innocent. Also, DNA evidence is extremely reliable in most cases. Rarely, the DNA sample is too small to analyze but almost always DNA samples collected from a crime are enough to determine who is guilty.

By stoneMason — On Apr 14, 2014

The other day, I read in the news about an execution that took place in the 90s. The accused was found guilty at that time even though he kept claiming of being innocent. Recently, they did DNA testing with the evidence from the case and discovered that the accused was in fact innocent. It's so sad.

I think there were many people who were wrongfully punished before the advent of DNA testing. Some of those people have actually been released from jail when evidence was reconsidered with the use of DNA analysis. But there are so many people who were executed despite being innocent who cannot be brought back. Unfortunately, they will never get justice.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
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