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Understanding DNA Evidence

Meaning of DNA

DNA refers to material found in cells – and is unique to each individual (except in the case of identical twins) since it helps determine characteristic features such as the eye colour, hair colour and texture, skin colour, among other things. DNA is collected from body fluids such as blood, saliva, sweat, semen and urine, aside of skin tissue. Collection of DNA

DNA material can be collected from the body and / or the clothes of the person who faced sexual assault. This is the main reason why one is not to wash up or take a bath immediately after a sexual assault until the forensic exam is completed. Usually, the exam is performed by a Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner / Sexual Assault Forensic Examination Organization / Trained Medical Professional. DNA should be collected at the earliest.

Once it is collected, the samples are then sent to a crime laboratory or a forensic laboratory. At the laboratory, professionals analyze the material and profile the DNA received in such a way that it is unique to a particular person. Then, these profiles are compared with potential suspects, with the help of the security sector. Accordingly, the individual when traced can be tracked and placed under arrest. Why does DNA matter in Sexual Assault Cases?

In investigations of cases of sexual assault, the role of DNA evidence is significant – it can even be the pivotal point in an investigation. In most forensic investigations of sexual assault, collecting DNA evidence is part of the process. The collection of DNA evidence makes a difference because:

- It increases the chances of identifying who the perpetrator was

- It increases the chances of holding perpetrators accountable for the crime so committed by them

- It can prevent the occurrence of future instances of sexual assault – by putting the perpetrator on the DNA database

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