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Familial DNA search

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A familial DNA search involves using the genetic information of the suspect's relative to identify the accused. Such searches utilize DNA samples that match the suspect's relative to locate the suspect.

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Contents

Overview

During police investigations, officers gather DNA evidence from the crime scene and compare it against those samples found in a DNA database. If forensic scientists are able to identify an exact match, then they can use that information to locate the accused and prove that he or she perpetrated the crime. This is referred to as traditional DNA search.[1]

However, if officers cannot find an exact match to the DNA evidence retrieved at the crime scene, then investigators will opt for a familial DNA search.[2] Currently, the DNA samples of convicted felons largely occupy DNA databases available for law enforcement investigation purposes. In cases where lab scientists cannot determine an exact DNA match, scientists discovering a close match can speculate the suspect is likely an immediate relative of a convicted felon. Such leads may provide the critical information necessary for a successful prosecution.[3]

Legal Issues

Privacy advocates are troubled by the foreseeable intrusions upon one's expectation of privacy resulting from the practice of familial DNA searches.[4] Kinship searches generally become necessary when an exact DNA match cannot be procured by forensic scientists. In such cases, scientists takes the list of partial matches and use that information to further their investigation. However, how the partial matches are explored may challenge our constitutional protection of privacy. Currently, California and Colorado are the only states using kinship searches as a means of criminal investigation while New York is still finalizing its rules.[5] Federal laws still preclude the use of federally-owned DNA databases for near-match searches.[6]

Advocates also warn that holding an entire class of individuals, generally those with a criminal background, under greater scrutiny violates our sense of equal treatment under the law.[7] Since crime labs perform their analysis on Y chromosomes, only males can be identified through familial DNA searches.[8]

References

  1. http://criminal.findlaw.com/crimes/criminal_rights/your-rights-search-and-seizure/familial-dna-search.html
  2. http://criminal.findlaw.com/crimes/criminal_rights/your-rights-search-and-seizure/familial-dna-search.html
  3. http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2007/04/17/state_police_may_hunt_for_a_suspect_using_kins_dna/
  4. http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/familial_dna_searches_are_creating_genetic_informants/
  5. http://blog.syracuse.com/opinion/2010/07/dna_searches_partial_matches_c.html
  6. http://articles.sfgate.com/2010-03-26/opinion/19477642_1_dna-samples-genetic-matches
  7. http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/familial_dna_searches_are_creating_genetic_informants/
  8. http://articles.sfgate.com/2010-03-26/opinion/19477642_1_dna-samples-genetic-matches

External Links

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