DNA | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Criminal Investigations

In the criminal justice context, DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) is a type of genetic material that is present in all cells of the body. DNA contains instructions for the development and function of all living organisms, and it is unique to each individual. DNA can be used as evidence in criminal investigations to identify a suspect or to link a suspect to a crime.

DNA evidence is typically collected from crime scenes by forensic scientists and analyzed in a laboratory. The process of analyzing DNA involves comparing a sample of DNA from the crime scene to a sample of DNA from a suspect or a database of known individuals. If the two samples match, it can be used as evidence to support the prosecution’s case. DNA evidence is considered to be very reliable because it is unique to each individual and is not easily contaminated.

In the criminal justice system, DNA evidence is often used in cases involving violent crimes, such as murder and sexual assault, as well as cases involving property crimes, such as burglaries and thefts. DNA evidence can be used to establish the presence of a suspect at the crime scene, to exclude a suspect as the perpetrator of a crime, or to identify the victim of a crime.

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Last Modified: 01/09/2023


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