Florida Counties Lessen DNA Testing Times
Defending a criminal case is a huge responsibility for any lawyer. As a client, you place your trust and confidence in the person who is representing your interests before the court. In doing so, lawyers employ a variety of legal theories and tactics to place a reasonable doubt in the theory of the prosecution. One common method is questioning the validity of evidence presented against the defendant. Cases can take months, or even years, to come before the court due to the time needed for law enforcement’s investigation. Sometimes, that lapse of time proves helpful for the defendant’s case, but the Orlando Sentinel is reporting that some Florida counties are working to cut the investigation period in half.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) crime lab in Orlando is the statewide laboratory, testing DNA samples from agencies across the state. With an abundance of work and extensive caseload, it could potentially take more than 100 days to associate a suspect with a violent crime through forensic evidence, as reported in the article. In an effort to drastically reduce this time frame, several counties are working with the FDLE to open crime labs within their borders. Seminole, Marion and Osceola have all began their own operations. With the opening of a $135,000 DNA lab, Orange is reportedly joining that list.
FDLE reportedly provided training to county crime scene investigators, who are now capable of pre-screening DNA samples within their own laboratory before sending them off to FDLE. According to the report, only the best evidential samples are sent away for more testing. This will reportedly prevent FDLE technicians from wasting time on samples that are not useful to resolving the case.
Vanessa Nylander is an assistant squad leader in Orange County’s forensics lab. She is quoted in the article as stating, “We’re going to be able to submit our best five items to FDLE,” Nylander said. “While they’re working those five items, we’re screening the remaining items of evidence. So when they do come back with their result, we can give the next five best items of evidence.”
An example of the evidence submission process is as follows:
- Law enforcement find an old tee-shirt near the scene of a homicide with a dark-reddish stain on it
- Previously, officers sent the shirt to the FDLE for DNA testing, even with uncertainty that the stain is actually blood
- With the new county labs, law enforcement agents can pre-screen the shirt to find out if the stain is in fact blood before sending it to the FDLA.
These new county labs may greatly decrease the time lapse between a serious crime occurring and law enforcement making an arrest. However, with the help of a capable and knowledgeable lawyer, you can still mount a successful defense that places the validity of the DNA and identification process into question.
If faced with serious criminal charges, contact an experienced lawyer. Our Miami lawyers are prepared to help you fight these charges. Contact Ratzan & Faccidomo, LLC today at (305) 330-3905 for a confidential and free consultation.