When the state brings charges against an individual, a prosecutor represents the government’s interests. Their role is to make a convincing case based on the evidence gathered by law enforcement authorities and investigators. They must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant violated the law in order to win their case at trial.
A prosecutor often needs professional support in the courtroom to explain evidence convincingly to jurors and judges. Unfortunately, sometimes prosecutors and police departments depend on bad science to develop a criminal case. People have gone to prison because the state convinced juries of their guilt using a less-than-scientific analysis of evidence. There are, unfortunately, numerous kinds of junk science that may be used in criminal cases. The submission of questionable evidence might give a convicted defendant grounds for an appeal.
What constitutes junk science?
Any kind of scientific claim based on a system that doesn’t hold up to independent analysis may constitute junk science. When reviewing what the prosecution has to build its case, a defense attorney might quickly realize that they don’t have much credible evidence to implicate the defendant.
For example, sometimes, in the absence of actual physical evidence, the state starts to interpret seemingly benign details to turn them into a case against an individual. Blood spatter analysis is a perfect example.
Despite its popularity in pop culture, there is minimal science affirming the validity of blood spatter analysis as part of a criminal case. Particularly when such analysis is the foundation of the prosecution, challenging the validity of blood spatter analysis can play a role in someone’s defense strategy.
911-call analysis is another kind of junk science. Questionable drug testing procedures, certain forms of handwriting analysis and even types of photo analysis have come under fire in recent years.
Junk science may have led to a miscarriage of justice
When prosecutors convince judges and jurors that there is some kind of scientific evidence connecting someone to a crime when there isn’t actually any evidence, the outcome of the criminal trial may be unfair. Those who believe they experienced a miscarriage of justice because the prosecutor used junk science in the courtroom could potentially have grounds for an appeal.
Reviewing the evidence presented in a criminal case can sometimes help individuals to determine whether they qualify to seek an appeal with the assistance of an experienced legal professional.