We recently discussed some common factors that appear in appeals of criminal cases. The tie that binds criminal conviction appeals together is that the defendant is working hard to show that he or she didn't commit the crime. In some cases, DNA evidence might be used to prove this.
Some people might be wondering exactly what DNA evidence could do in an appeal when it is used as the basis of so many cases. The fact of the matter is that many people who are behind bars didn't have DNA evidence presented by either side in the case.
Think about this -- a person who is convicted of rape learns that the rape kit that was done on the woman he allegedly raped wasn't ever tested. He demands that the kit is tested. The tests show that his DNA wasn't present. He could use that information to launch an appeal, and there is a chance that the lack of his DNA could exonerate him.
When there is DNA evidence in a case, it is important for the defense team to find out if the evidence was processed properly. If there are any signs that the evidence wasn't handled properly, that might be used by the defense in an attempt to have that evident deemed inadmissible.
For people who are facing charges that could mean they are sentenced to death or life in prison, it is especially important to consider the impact of DNA evidence. There have been cases in the past that involved DNA evidence being used to determine that a person who was convicted was actually not guilty. In some of those cases, the evidence came too late. In others, the evidence meant the person got to get out of prison.
Source: FindLaw, "DNA as an Exoneration Tool," accessed Oct. 27, 2016