The Role of Dna Profiling in Criminal Investigation Essay

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THE ROLE OF DNA PROFILING IN CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION Henry Roberts Jane Taupin and Tony Raymond Victoria Police State Forensic Science Laboratory Victoria Introduction DNA profiling has attracted a good deal of public attention in the last eight years. The practical application of DNA technology to the identification of biological material has had a significant impact on forensic biology, because it enables much stronger conclusions of identity or non-identity to be made. Legislation regulating the taking of blood samples from suspects has been enacted in Victoria (Crimes (Blood Samples) Act 1989; Crimes Legislation (Miscellaneous Amendments) Act 1991), and further amendments are proposed. Databases of DNA profiles are being compiled as an aid to criminal intelligence. Faced with powerful incriminating evidence, defendants are often persuaded to change their plea or else mount a legal challenge to the admissibility of DNA profiling. This paper will firstly outline the procedures used in DNA profiling, without dwelling too much on the technical details. The basis of the technology can be described simply, and is not in dispute (see, for example, the decisions in People v. Castro, 545 N.Y.S. 2d, Supreme Court of New York, Bronx, 1989; R v. Lucas (1992) 2 V.R. 109). This will enable us to focus more clearly on the real issues in DNA profiling. Contrary to popular perceptions, DNA profiling in its present form cannot identify an individual. This illusion was created by commercial organisations intent on marketing competing DNA profiling systems (see for example, Lander, 1989), and was fostered by the news media. What is DNA? DNA in an individual's chromosomes controls an array of visible characteristics (including race, colouring and sex) as well as invisible characteristics (such as blood groups and susceptibility to inherited

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