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Forensic Evidence Errors and Las Vegas Criminal Cases

admin Oct 12,2015 Blog, Legal Information, News

When defendants are charged with crimes in Las Vegas, prosecutors have the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendants are guilty. In many criminal cases ranging from charges of impaired driving to charges of sexual assault or murder, forensic evidence is presented by prosecutors seeking conviction.  Juries tend to trust forensic evidence, if for no other reason than they see lots of television shows where forensic evidence is used to solve crimes. The problem is, unlike on TV, forensic evidence is not always accurate and it shouldn’t always lead to a guilty verdict.

At LV Criminal Defense, our experienced Las Vegas legal team has helped many defendants to successfully challenge forensic evidence or to make juries doubt the accuracy of evidence presented.  If you are being tried for a crime, call us to learn more about how we can use our legal knowledge to undermine not just the trust in forensic evidence, but also the effectiveness of the prosecutor’s case so you can raise a strong defense in efforts to avoid conviction.

Mistakes Can Happen with Forensic Evidence

 Mistakes in forensic evidence can, and frequently do, happen for many different reasons. An article entitled: “Failures at State Crime Labs May Jeopardize Cases,” shows an example of one situation in which grievous errors were being made and putting defendants at risk of conviction for crimes they did not commit.

The article, which was published by ABC, highlighted serious issues at one state police crime lab. Internal audits at the lab had identified issues in the way evidence was handled, in the scientific method used by lab employees, and in test methods and calibration.

Additional investigation by outside investigators revealed problems at the crime lab dating as far back as 2003. The errors were very serious ones, including specimens being mislabeled, test samples being switched or mixed up, tests being performed with improperly calibrated equipment, and the use of inaccurate testing methods.  The lab was also found to have been wrongfully destroying samples, which could potentially have been used for re-testing to get more accurate information.

Many of the problems in the crime lab were discovered by a defense attorney representing a driver who was being tried for an impaired driving offense.  The driver had been charged with causing an accident while over the limit on alcohol and was facing as long as 15 years imprisonment for the alleged crime.  The accident occurred in 2011, and after the crash, the driver who was facing charges had been tested for alcohol. The test, which was processed at the badly-run crime lab, had revealed that the driver was just above the legal limit of .08 percent blood alcohol concentration.  This forensic evidence could have been damning and led to a conviction- if the prosecutor could have proved its accuracy.

Instead, the internal audits from the crime lab detailing testing problems were shown to the prosecutor, and the prosecutor opted against using the BAC test evidence against the driver.  Instead of being convicted, the driver was declared innocent of all charges and faced no penalties at all.

This is far from the only situation in which forensic evidence has been processed by a lab that cut corners and failed to live up to its responsibility for accuracy.  Even the best forensic crime lab can sometimes make mistakes- and it often takes an attorney to find the errors, bring them to light, and prevent the questionable evidence from being used to secure a conviction.

When you are being tried for any crime and any type of forensic evidence, from finger prints to DNA to BAC results, is being used against you, you should speak with an experienced Las Vegas defense lawyer about how you can challenge the evidence to reduce the chances it will lead to a guilty verdict.  Contact LV Criminal Defense today to learn more about how our experienced legal team can help.

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