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A criminal case with forensic evidence which raises a major issue in law in an Australian state of territory Essay Example

  • Category:
    Law
  • Document type:
    Article
  • Level:
    Undergraduate
  • Page:
    2
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    1387

Article 6

A criminal case with forensic evidence which raises a major issue in law in an Australian state of territory

Forensic evidence can be defined as the evidence which can be used in a court of law, more specifically so the one obtained by such methods which rely on science which includes blood test, DNA test, ballistics. It is through these scientific methods that evidence is collected, hence forensic evidence occurs under the field of forensic science. Caddy and Cobb (2011) defines forensic science as science which is utilized for the aim of law. In line with this any branch under science which can be used for the purpose of resolving legal can be regarded as forensic science. The forensic science is used to collect evidences from the scene of crimes. The evidences collected can be used to cover all criminal prosecutions which vary greatly in nature and can include civil proceedings with the likes of breach of contracts, safety plus health at work.

Forensic evidence has a rich historical background which can be traced as far back as the 6th century with the Chinese who were carrying out legal medicine. Since then there has tremendous improvement in the field of science as well as medical knowledge. This has made the kind of evidence being produced in a court of law as it is more credible. With the advent of more complex technology, such as computers which have been incorporated in the medical field to aid in the analytical techniques and the data produced can withstand any criticism as it more accurate. This has occurred more particularly so in the past 50 years and there is still more increasing use in the future. The majority of the analytical techniques which have been employed have enabled sensitivity of the highest order with even materials which cannot be observed with the naked eye. The future use of trace evidence is much brighter than anyone can imagine and hence there is the need for each and every stakeholder in the administration of justice to prepare and involve him or herself fully (Roux, 2011).

Using forensic science to provide evidence in a court of law is a very complex affair. It is now in use by the countries all over the world to present cases in a court of law. For instance in Australia the use of DNA to profile in the application of justice in criminal system is a very vital issue that is today facing the courts in Australia together with those who investigate crimes. With the tremendous changing of the technology and with its application to DNA profiling, the legal advisers are forced to keep on educating themselves on this matter so as to be conversant with the kind of scientific evidence. DNA profiling is the one used to show that the blood contained in the weapon of crime is the same as the one of the person who committed the crime (Knox, 2009). It has been regarded as a strong breakthrough in the field of forensic science by very many people.

The tremendous impact the science concerning DNA profiling has made in the justice process all over the world in the last three decades is quite commendable. In Australia several cases can be cited which gives a very clear picture of this great achievement in the justice system. One of the most popular case was a murder which took place in a place known as Queensland in the year 1983, where the advance steps taken in the DNA technology at last, led to a guilty verdict, in 2001.

Queensland’s 1983 Brampton Island murder

In an Island known as Brampton on the Great Barrier Reef in the year 1983, the body of a worker in a resort known as Celia Douty, aged 41, was discovered bludgeoned to death plus her head was covered using a towel. More than 300 guest and visitors were interviewed by the police on the island. This crime had neither witnesses nor confession, but for a period of about eighteen years, a man known as Wayne Butler who was a Sydney motor industry finance manager, police suspected him. This was after a family member contacted the police and nominated him. The techniques used in the DNA profiling, were still in the initial stages hence could not be used to provide sufficient prove until recently, when on account of the evidence, Butler was tried in the year 2001.

The court was told that the victim Douty, who was working as a waitress, had gone in Idyllic Dinghy Bay to sunbake, as was her norm on her day off. Butler had gone for strolling and exploring four hours alone in the island, on the day Douty died. Some DNA testing was done on the semen stains found on the towel which confirmed they were confirmed as coming from Butler. The collection of the samples had taken place during the time of the investigation but DNA profiling had not been developed then. During the hearing of the case there allegations that the was a probable contamination of the samples, but the prosecution countered this allegation by demonstrating before the court that there was compartmentalization of the laboratory by use of varying air pressure. The jury found Butler guilty of the crime which was also upheld by the Supreme Court.

With this advent of DNA profiling, several laws have been put in place that aids in administration and its use. There are several issues t hat arises concerning the use and the administration of DNA testing. For example what is the constitutional treatment in the collection saliva or even hair samples? In many instances search warrants are required. In Australia all legislation in state and territorial comprises of the powers to look and to employ reasonable force. The use of DNA profiling evidence has not been popular in Australia as compared to other countries. The first use of DNA profiling was in the ACT in the year 1989 when a man who was charged with three counts assaulting sexually had refused to comply with the police order to take a blood sample, only agreeing after the police convinced him that they were entitled to take it under the same laws that allows for hand fingerprinting.

For the case whose based on DNA evidence, the use of this technique is dependent on the amount of the DNA sample the perpetrator ids able to leave in the scene of crime. These includes samples such semen, blood, hair, and soft tissue. The period taken also to take these samples also matters for evidence to be admissible. This is because of the fact that the all these are affected by such conditions as sunlight and humidity which causes the DNA to degrade. The nature of some of these crimes also makes it quite ineffective. For instance victims of crimes such as rape usually destroy the evidence by not reporting to the police early enough or even taking a birth and washing their clothes.

In conclusion, the use of forensic evidence has made great contributions in the justice systems. This is because it has enabled the innocent who have convicted of the crimes they never committed and for the guilty to be brought to book. It is through forensic evidence that some of the mysterious criminal cases have been brought to rest through. The future of forensic evidence is brighter than anyone can imagine therefore there is the need for everybody involved in the dissemination of the justice system to participate and take full advantage of it. There is the need for all the stakeholders to put up the existing structures, in order to ensure that all that ensure the effective use of forensic evidence is put in place. The public should also be educated on how the forensic evidence works so as to be able to preserve admissible evidence in case a crime is committed against them.

References

Caddy, B. and Cobb (2011). Forensic Science, The New Way, 15(3),23-45

Easteal, W. and Easteal, S. (1990). The Forensic Use of DNA Profiling, Trends and Issues In Crime And Criminal Justice, 7(3), 45-67

Knox, A.(2009). LCN DNA Profiling Part I, canary in the LCN DNA mine, 9(4),78-105

Roux, C.(2011) Forensic Science In The 21st Century- Will Trace Ever Reach The Next Level?6(3), 34-67