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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 152148 Find in a Library
Title: DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid) Evidence and Criminal Trials: An Exploratory Survey of Factors Associated With the Use of "Genetic Fingerprinting" in Felony Prosecutions
Journal: Journal of Criminal Justice  Volume:22  Issue:2  Dated:(1994)  Pages:145-157
Author(s): N Purcell; L T Winfree Jr; G L Mays
Date Published: 1993
Page Count: 13
Type: Survey
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article analyzes 55 cases in 13 States in which the prosecutor introduced or threatened to introduce DNA evidence at trial.
Abstract: The analysis focuses on: (1) whether, in the prosecutor's opinion, a conviction could have been obtained without the DNA evidence; (2) the eventual outcome of the case; and (3) the severity of the sentences pronounced on those found guilty. These outcomes were analyzed along with selected offense characteristics, including the type of offense, indications of possible racial prejudice, and victim-offender relationships. The analysis also took into account the influence of personal and biographical features, including the defendant's age and employment history. Results corroborated the observation that prosecutors are concerned with reducing uncertainty by using DNA evidence when offender characteristics such as age, employment status, or being a stranger-perpetrator might mitigate against a successful conviction. The prosecutors did not appear to have believed that DNA evidence was necessary to offset concerns about racism. Findings also support the idea that sentencing authorities are concerned about crime seriousness in their deliberations and that the penalty is likely to be more severe in which a DNA expert testifies and the defendant is clearly and unequivocally guilty. Tables, 42 references, and 2 case citations
Main Term(s): Science and Technology
Index Term(s): Court procedures; DNA fingerprinting; Scientific testimony; Sentencing factors
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