Wednesday, August 25, 2010

What are Forensic DNA Tests?

What is Forensic DNA Testing?

Forensics comes form an old Latin word, ‘forensis’ or forum. Today, it has taken slant as far as medical issues like DNA is concerned. Forensics refers to the use of DNA in proving a case in court.

If you have watched the CSI series on TV, then you are adequately informed that it is possible to use a person’s DNA to prove innocence or guilt. Every person’s DNA is unique and cannot be replicated. It is similar to a fingerprint except today, fingerprints can be erased or changed, artificially or through tampering with your finger profile.

A DNA is a miniscule piece of tissue about 1/ millionth inch and can be found in a person’s body and cell tissue. You can think of DNA as a building block upon which are bodies are built. The chances of finding a person with the exact DNA as yourself would 1  for every 300 million.

When the concept of using DNA to identify a person without doubt, it became the main focal point in solving a lot of court cases and crime. Forensic DNA however has its limitations.

DNA testing is not as easy as 1-2-3. Not all countries have the facilities to test DNA, and even if they do, the time frame for getting the results of a DNA test is not immediate. Generally, it takes more than a couple of weeks before the results are known. Thus, the scenes you see in TV where the DNA test results come in minutes is not accurate.

The process of DNA testing means that you have to have two samples to compare with. In forensic DNA, the two sample would be that evidence from a crime scene and the other from the suspect. Evidence could be hair, saliva, blood, skin tissue, semen, vaginal fluid, or nail clippings. If the two samples match, then you have proof that the suspect was in the scene of the crime.

Forensic DNA test can also be used to prove who the parents of a child are, or who two people are siblings or related through blood samples. The beauty of forensic DNA test is as long as the sample from the crime scene is preserved, a criminal can be caught many years after the fact.

Today, many people who have been sentenced wrongly are able to pursue their case through DNA testing. In fact, hundreds of people wrongly accused and judged are finally finding ways to clearing their names and being freed from prison.