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North Carolina Criminal Defense Attorneys
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How is DNA used in a sex crimes case?

In many sex crime cases, there is no DNA evidence found that can be used at trial. However, for the cases that do involve DNA evidence, it can be difficult to build an effective defense. An experienced criminal defense attorney, though, can determine if there was an error when the evidence was collected, stored or processed -- all of which can provide reasonable doubt in the minds of a judge or jury.

DNA is found in every cell in our bodies. It determines the color of our skin, hair and eyes. It is found in blood, sweat, urine saliva, skin tissue and semen. On an alleged victim of rape or similar sex crime, DNA might be found on his or her body or clothing, on furniture, drinking glasses, cigarette butts and more.

During a law enforcement investigation, DNA is collected -- or supposed to be collected -- by trained investigators. This is to avoid the destruction or contamination of the evidence. It may be collected from people who have been at the crime scene beforehand and those who may have had sexual contact with the alleged victim in the previous 72 hours.

Many times, DNA evidence is collected through the use of a rape kit at a health care facility by a sexual assault nurse examiner; however, if there no such person available, another professional in the medical field will collect the evidence. Once collected, the evidence will be sent to a crime lab for processing. Once processed, the DNA results will be checked against the DNA of known suspects. The main database is known as the Combined DNA Index System.

As you can see, when prosecutors use DNA as evidence, it is a very involved process. In many cases, there is a need for additional evidence besides just DNA. Learning more about DNA and how it can affect a criminal case is important to North Carolina defendants who are facing sex crime charges.

Source: Rape, Abuse, Incest and National Network, "The Importance of DNA in a Sexual Assault Case" accessed Jan. 23, 2015

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