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DNA Fingerprinting

Uses For DNA Fingerprinting

DNA evidence that could be found at a crime scene.

There are many known uses of DNA fingerprinting, and without this process many things would not be possible.  The most common use of DNA fingerprinting is to prove guilt.  With the use of this process, suspects can be connected to evidence from a crime scene based on a microscopic piece of DNA.


Another main use is to prove innocence.  DNA fingerprinting is just about as useful in excluding innocent suspects, as it is with convicting guilty suspects.  When DNA fingerprinting is used to compare suspects, about 30% of the time at least one of the suspects gets excluded and proven innocent.  Even if police and researchers are unable to identify the specific suspect, DNA fingerprinting allows them to narrow down their options by excluding anyone with no connection to the DNA evidence found at the scene of the crime.    


Paternity and maternity testing is another very important use for this process.  DNA fingerprinting has been proven to be very useful in matching children to their biological mother or father.  With the help of this process, many family relationships have been established and proven biological.  Fingerprinting is also used all around the world for jobs such as identifying missing children in other countries, as well as soldiers killed at war.  Although the process works very well for identifying missing people, it is not always the most practical way to identify people in war.  Depending on how severe the injury is, DNA fingerprinting may not be the best process to show the most accurate results.


One of the more recent uses of DNA fingerprinting involves the U.S. Department of Defense.  In 1992 they decided to create a record of the genetic fingerprints of the 1.5 million people in the armed forces.  These records would allow for easier identification of soldiers killed in fights, reducing the amount of unknown bodies.  A similar record of DNA fingerprints for sex offenders is another possibility, making it easier to convict them if their genetic information is already on file. 

This picture shows how DNA fingerprinting is used in a sexual assault case.  Two suspects had DNA samples taken, and as you can see, the DNA from suspect 1 matches the semen DNA from the crime scene.  Both suspect 1’s DNA and the semen DNA have long fragments, as they did not move very far across the gel, whereas the DNA fragments from suspect 2 were shorter because they moved farther down the gel towards the positive end.  Because of this process, suspect 2 can be proven innocent since his DNA does not match the DNA evidence from the crime scene. 

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