Contained on Officer.com are multiple articles that I find completely fascinating as a defense attorney and former peace officer in Texas, but one caught my eye this morning as I was perusing my reader application, Lying for DNA.
This well-written article talks about multiple court cases and ways that the collection of DNA have been upheld and thus allowed as evidence in cases both in court and through the course of criminal investigation. And, of course, it even borders on some of the more interesting points like those sometimes raised by conspiracy theorists, of which, I am a small one to an extent.
Without getting into the specifics of any of these cases, I found myself wondering just how much DNA a person leaves behind (I’ve googled but not found this) and how far some law enforcement officers are willing to go to get it (hopefuly as suggested in the article, not too far). To be clear, I’m not saying that any one officer is a bad apple and that they should not use whatever tools are available to them to get information that can be objectively used to establish an absence of guilt (the defense angle), but I am afraid of this becoming common practice in smaller cases. I am afraid of a centralized database. I do not want my very genetic coding "safe-guarded" for use or access by just any agency … Why?
Well, let’s start with the possibility that if that information is maintained, we are all identifiable… now how is that different from fingerprints? I guess it really is not, since fingerprints are also unique… except for one glaringly obvious reason: to leave behind a fingerprint, I must be there and touch something… that’s not the case with DNA.
As I walk through a hallway, I’m shedding skin cells (DNA). I lose hair (fortunately not from a hair-thinning issue, yet). I touch things, cough, sneeze, etc. All of these actions, most of which are involuntary may leave behind my DNA … and depending on the width and depth of the search conducted by police could put me really in the wrong place at the wrong time… afterall, we never know what will become a crime scene until it happens… just because DNA is present, in a very public place, does not mean that the person identified is responsible for the alleged crime… but it could create a very real and very stressful situation that could not only take time, money and jeopardize reputation, but just may be downright embarrasing.
In the end, I titled this article DNA and the misTruth for that very reason… just because my DNA shows up in a hallway or even on or in a car that was ultimately used in a crime scene, that does not make me the suspect. Afterall, have you ever been in a car, perhaps on a date, and then chose never to see that person again. Say that person turns up missing 4 months later and their car is found… are you responsible? Probably not… but should there be a centralized database with which to focus on you? I hope not… because that DNA would point to a misTruth… that you are the person responsible for someone going missing….