How Police Use DNA To Solve Crimes

Terry Mansfield

Police use DNA testing to solve crimes by comparing samples of DNA evidence to a database of known offenders.


The benefits of DNA testing include solving crimes, exonerating the innocent, and deterring crime. However, there is controversy surrounding DNA testing due to civil liberties and false positives.

How DNA Testing Is Used In Policing.

DNA Database

The DNA database is a collection of DNA profiles that can be searched to identify individuals who may have committed a crime. The government maintains the database, and it is accessible to law enforcement agencies. To search the database, law enforcement must first obtain a warrant. Once a warrant is obtained, the agency can search the database for matches. If a match is found, the agency can then investigate the individual who is associated with the match.

Cold Cases

A cold case is a crime that has not been solved and which has gone "cold" due to a lack of leads or evidence. However, advances in DNA technology have led to cold cases being reopened and solved using DNA evidence. In some cases, DNA evidence from a cold case has been used to identify and convict the perpetrator of the crime. In other cases, DNA evidence has been used to exonerate individuals wrongfully convicted of crimes they did not commit.

Unsolved Crimes

Unsolved crimes are those for which no arrest or conviction has been made. Often, crimes remain unsolved due to a lack of evidence or leads. However, advances in DNA technology have led to some unsolved crimes being solved using DNA evidence. In some cases, DNA evidence from an unsolved crime has been used to identify and convict the perpetrator of the crime. In other cases, DNA evidence has been used to exonerate individuals wrongfully convicted of crimes they did not commit.

The Benefits of DNA Testing.

Solving Crimes

DNA testing can be a powerful tool for solving crimes. In many cases, DNA evidence is the only way to identify a suspect. For example, in a rape case where the victim does not know her attacker, DNA evidence from the crime scene can be used to identify the suspect. In other cases, DNA evidence can be used to corroborate other evidence, such as eyewitness testimony. In addition, DNA testing can be used to exclude suspects; for instance, if police have a suspect in mind, but his DNA does not match the crime scene evidence, they can rule him out as a suspect.

Exonerating the Innocent

Sometimes, DNA testing can be used to exonerate people wrongly convicted of crimes. In some instances, wrongful convictions have been overturned based on new DNA evidence unavailable at the time of trial. In other cases, prisoners have been exonerated after serving years in jail; in some of these cases, prisoners were on death row when they were exonerated by DNA evidence. While it is impossible to know how many people have been wrongfully convicted without DNA evidence (since we cannot test for something that doesn't exist), it is clear that DNA testing has the potential to correct miscarriages of justice.

Deterring Crime

DNA testing can also deter crime. If potential criminals know that their DNA could be left at the scene of a crime and used to identify them, they may be less likely to commit a crime in the first place. In addition, if police can quickly solve crimes using DNA evidence, this may deter would-be criminals; if they know that their chances of getting away with a crime are slim, they may be less likely to commit one.

The Controversy Surrounding DNA Testing.

Civil Liberties

DNA testing in policing has been controversial since it was first introduced in the 1980s. Some argue that it violates an individual's right to privacy, while others say that it is a necessary tool for law enforcement.

One of the main concerns with DNA testing is that it can be used to collect information about an individual without their knowledge or consent. For example, police in some jurisdictions have been known to take DNA samples from people who have been arrested but not convicted of a crime. This raises civil liberties concerns, as the individuals concerned have not been found guilty of anything and may never be.

Another concern is that DNA testing can lead to false positives. This means that someone may be identified as a suspect in a crime when they are innocent. While false positives are relatively rare, they can have devastating consequences for the individuals involved.


DNA testing is a powerful tool to solve crimes and exonerate the innocent. However, there is also some controversy surrounding its use. Some people worry about civil liberties and the possibility of false positives. Overall, DNA testing is a valuable tool that can help to keep our communities safe.


Cold Case Files: Case #16-0399 - Twin States News.

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Techniques of Crime Scene Investigation (Forensic and Police Science)

Genetic Testing and the Criminal Law (Criminology S)


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