Madison Crime Lab Approved for Expansion; What This Means for Suspectsby Attorney Carlos Gamino on 03/27/14
In an effort to improve criminal investigations and reduce all-over crime in the state, the Wisconsin Building Commission, under Gov. Scott Walker, has approved for the expansion of the Madison Crime Lab, one of the nation’s first state-level laboratories, in April to accommodate the new DNA Databank program.
The DNA Databank program collects DNA samples from every individual who has been convicted of a felony in the State of Wisconsin. The samples facilitate investigations by allowing case workers with DNA evidence from the scene of a crime to search for matching DNA against the database.
But will this actually be a good thing? Can storing DNA backfire and lead to innocent people being arrested? Absolutely.
Though the lab was created with the best of intentions, attorneys who are experienced in working with labs like this understand that several things can go wrong, starting with the fact that the samples can be contaminated or falsified. In cases involving DNA analysis, often a lawyer like defense attorney Carlos Gamino will defend the case using a theory that may include the idea that there was a mistake with the original DNA samples, or with the samples collected at the scene of a crime, and that someone may be unfairly blamed for a crime they did not commit.
Samples should be tested and retested to ensure accuracy, but chances are, authorities will just take the bank’s “word for it” when searching for a matching set of DNA following a crime.
Starting in April, 2015, Wisconsin police will have the right to collect DNA samples from a suspect at the time of arrest, which will be entered into the DNA database. So what does this mean for possible suspects? That the need for the expertise of a Wisconsin criminal defense attorney will be higher than ever, especially if there is an error in the samples.