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Articles Tagged with forensics

A 19-year-old man and seven others are accused of forcing their way into a Louis Vuitton store and stealing an estimated $77,000 in merchandise. In this case, each of the bags had trackers in them, and police were able to recover the trackers along the interstate. From the trackers, they were able to recover a palm print along with “other evidence” that placed one suspect at the scene of the crime. 

In terms of retail theft, the type of charge you face is related to the value of the merchandise. The law was updated in the past few years and now it is a felony to steal any merchandise valued at $1,000 or more. Prior to that, you only had to steal $150 worth of merchandise to qualify for a felony. However, due to inflation, the law was updated to reflect the minimal amount of buying power that $150 represents.

Those charged with felony retail theft can never expunge the offense from their record. Those charged with misdemeanor retail theft can. Hence, the stakes are quite high for 19-year-olds charged with retail theft. The state will still have to prove that the value of the stolen merchandise was greater than $1,000. Additionally, the palm print evidence may not be as strong as fingerprint evidence.

Law enforcement uses a number of techniques to convict criminal defendants that appear on the surface to be scientific, but really are not. No, we are not talking about DNA evidence, which has been used to exonerate many wrongfully-accused defendants. We are talking about other forensic techniques that were created by the FBI, but have scant scientific merit. In this article, we will take a look at some of that junk science.

Profiling and Behavioral Sciences

We all love Thomas Harris novels and TV shows like Criminal Minds, but the truth is profiling is useless. Not only is it basically stereotyping, but you can pull any Joe off the street and get a similar result to what a trained profiler would produce. 

rui-silvestre-703796-unsplash-copy-242x300Our criminal justice system was founded on the idea that it is better to let a man go free than to imprison him unjustly. For that reason, prosecutors are held to a very high standard of proof. In many cases, this proof is acquired using scientific means. However, sometimes these means are not so scientific and other times the methods of quality control are severely flawed.

In 2016, Judged Stuart Katz dismissed a complaint against a Chicago juvenile when fingerprint evidence was brought against him. The forensic officer involved in matching the prints was castigated in court after the Judge found a number of methodological flaws in the man’s work. The judge accused the Sergeant of being “oblivious” and “not caring about educating himself” in his own field or work. He went onto say that there appeared to be no audits or any method of verification and that they did not follow the basic procedures set forth by the FBI. The judge determined that the entire department needed to clean up its act or they would find it very difficult to enter forensic evidence into the record during future trials.

The FBI is Just as Bad

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