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DNA Evidence in Sex Crime Cases

A pretty effective tool for law enforcement and prosecutors in a sex crime case is being able to utilize DNA evidence in such a way that it shows that a defendant committed a crime. Sometimes DNA evidence isn't really relevant.

For example, if two people have sex and both admits that they had sex, but one says it was consensual and the other says it doesn't, the DNA evidence is not really all that relevant because both parties have already admitted the sex was consensual.  So, other issues would come in to play.  For example, whether there were any injuries or any sign of forced sexual intercourse.

First Date With Sexual Activity

Where I see DNA evidence a lot though is in circumstances where people get together on a date.  Usually, it's a first date and somehow some sexual activity occurs.  Maybe one person gets too drunk and then the next morning they feel like they've been taken advantage of but they can't really remember what happened.

Then the police come and interview them.  They interview the other party and a lot of times they're trying to get DNA evidence, especially if the other party says yeah,, we both got drunk.  I didn't have sex with the person.

So, now getting DNA evidence would be crucial, because if the police got DNA evidence and the other person's DNA was inside the vagina of the victim, now they've got an argument that that person lied to them because they took advantage of an unconscious person, which happens all the time in these date-rape-type scenarios.

Do You Have to Give Police DNA if Requested?

One question that comes up with this DNA sex crime evidence is, do you have to give your DNA when the police come and ask for it.  And the answer is you probably don't and I don't think they can force you to do it. 

DNA Evidence in California Sex Crime Cases

Where you would have a problem though is if you refuse to give your DNA evidence, they might be able to use that against you.  Your attorney would have to argue to try to block that at a future trial, or other court proceeding, but they may be able to get a warrant to get your DNA.

They'd have to present to the judge facts that show that you're a suspect in some sort of a sex crime and getting the DNA might be relevant to establish whether your guilty or innocent of that sex crime.

Then they can get the warrant and come in and take the DNA.  They could even force the DNA and it's not that difficult to get the warrant.  So, a lot of times, depending on the circumstances, I will just suggest to my clients that they cooperate and give the DNA.

Obviously, don't give any statement, but they could certainly give their DNA and then the chips fall where they may.  Just because there's a DNA, doesn't necessarily mean that a person is guilty of a particular crime..  You have to know exactly what they're being charged with and what evidence is necessary to prove the crime.

But DNA evidence has always been a very effective tool for law enforcement in trying to solve sex crime cases.  Even for the defense it can be used to show that a person did not have sex with somebody.

Even though DNA doesn't come up all the time, it would just be one additional factor that could be used to show that your particular client is not guilty of the crime, because if they did have sex with the person, why isn't their DNA there.

Victim Examination by Doctor for DNA Evidence

But in order to get DNA usually in a sex crime case, the alleged victim is going to have to go get a SARC examination, which basically means that they go to the doctor, they go to typically a nurse and that nurse is now going to check them to see if there's any DNA.

There's a whole series of tests that are performed on the person and then it's sent to be evaluated to see if there's any DNA.  Then the next step is, whose DNA is that?

So, a lot of times they're going to want to put it through a database of people's DNA that they have.  That's why now in sex crime cases and felonies across California, people who are convicted of those felonies have to give their DNA, their fingerprints, their palm prints, because now law enforcement is collecting a database to be able to identify people who commit crimes when they can't figure out who the person is.

Rape Kit for DNA Evidence

For example, somebody broke into somebody's house, raped them and then left and they didn't know that person, it's going to be difficult to identify that person, but if they left behind DNA, law enforcement can get a rape kit and put it in a database to see if they could get a match.

I've had countless DNA cases and I can tell you that under the right circumstances, it can be a very effective weapon for prosecutors in a sex crime case during a jury trial to be able to present that DNA evidence.

But of course, it all depends on the facts and circumstances of a particular case.  Not all cases really justify DNA being used and when it is used it has to be used the right way under the right circumstances.