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Michael Litman June 21, 2018

People Leave a Trail of DNA Everywhere They Go

In 2012, Lukis Anderson was framed for murder by his own DNA. His DNA was found under the fingernails of a murder victim, Raveesh Kumra of San Jose. This made him the primary suspect in the murder case, and it took months of work before investigators could understand how Anderson’s DNA got there.

This phenomenon is known as “secondary transfer”—when DNA ends up on people and in places they never touched. DNA doesn’t always stay in place, and it can move around once it’s released into the environment. One effect of this discovery is that DNA evidence has to be closely examined to see if it’s valid—something that has serious effects on criminal investigations.

If you have any questions about criminal defense, or if you are currently facing charges, contact the Law Office of Michael D. Litman. We have the knowledge and the experience to help you with all your criminal defense needs. Give us a call and set up a free consultation today.

DNA Evidence is Not Infallible

According to a study from The Marshall Project, objects can carry DNA from people who never touched them. For example, nearly half of the tables in the study were found to carry DNA from individuals in the study who never touched the table. In addition, 97 percent of those tables had DNA that didn’t match any of the study’s participants.

These results indicate that individuals carry DNA on them at all times—not only their own but also that of everyone they encounter or touch as they go about their day. So just because an individual’s DNA is on an object, this doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve ever touched it. No matter how much people may think DNA evidence is conclusive proof, there is still considerable room for doubt.

What This Might Mean for Defendants

Because people leave a trail of DNA wherever they go, simply having DNA on an object isn’t enough to prove everything the prosecution would like for it to prove. Traces of DNA could mean that you brushed shoulders with someone who committed a crime with the object in question. They could mean you sneezed in the general area of an object used in a crime.

The point is that the simple presence of a few traces of DNA isn’t enough to prove anything. It may mean you become a suspect. If it’s present in sufficient amounts, it could mean you were the perpetrator of a crime. But under the best knowledge of science today, a trace of DNA on an object isn’t necessarily enough to force a conviction.

Contact Us

Since 2014, the Law Office of Michael D. Litman has been representing the criminal defense needs of the citizens of White Plains, Westchester County, and the New York Metro area. We have the knowledge and the experience to help with all your criminal defense needs. If you have questions or need to set up a consultation, contact us online or call us today. Our firm will work with you from the arraignment all the way through to the trial.


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