Understanding DNA analysis

Updated For 2021

Arizona residents who face criminal charges may be aware that prosecutors might be waiting for results of forensic testing to be used in their cases. Defense attorneys may also be interested in and able to make use of the results of such testing. While prosecutors may be looking for test results that support an arrest and a conviction, defense teams may be looking for test results that may help prove their clients’ innocence. But, just how is a person’s DNA actually tested?

The National Institute of Justice explains that the first step in the process of evaluating DNA is to isolate the actual DNA from other materials included in the sample that was received. Once isolated, the DNA may be duplicated to allow more testing to take place. The DNA is then processed and tested and eventually an identification of the type may be achieved. After this, teams may analyze the results and prepare a case report.

According to Forensic Science Simplified, virtually any substance that has made contact with a defendant’s body fluids may provide sufficient samples from which to conduct forensic testing on the DNA.

Examples of items that may be scoured for DNA material include those that may have traces of saliva on them like toothbrushes cigarettes, stamps, glassware or dishes. Other items that can be used to obtain samples might be outer or under clothing items, bed or bathroom linens, glasses, tools, keys, knives, guns and anything else that may be believed to have been a weapon. Even scrapings of skin or other material from underneath the fingernail may be evaluated.


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