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Understanding DNA Evidence: A Guide for Victim Service Providers

NCJ Number
Date Published
April 2001
12 pages
Publication Series
This bulletin offers victim service providers an understanding of how DNA testing may be used in victims' cases, the process and procedures used and the potential outcomes from the test.
DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, is the fundamental building block for an individual's entire genetic makeup, our hereditary blueprint. DNA is a powerful investigative tool. DNA evidence collected from a crime scene can link a suspect to a crime or eliminate one from suspicion. It is important that every victim service provider be aware of important issues involved in the identification, collection, transportation, and storage of DNA evidence to prevent contamination. The bulletin continues with information provided on DNA processes and procedures including contamination issues, DNA testing analysis, interpreting results of DNA analysis, analysis of DNA evidence in closed and unsolved cases, using the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) to identify and link serial crimes, showing the power of DNA evidence through three case studies, and postconviction events and DNA testing. Forensic DNA plays a significantly important role in solving sexual assault and homicide cases. DNA evidence is a crucial tool in effective police work. DNA evidence exonerates the innocent and alerts law enforcement to pursue the actual offender. Although DNA is a powerful tool, it is useless if not properly collected, preserved, and tested. Members of the criminal justice community must be trained to identify DNA evidence, understand its significance, and counsel victims on how valuable it is in apprehending and convicting offenders. Glossary and References

Date Published: April 1, 2001