H. Michael Steinberg has over 32 years experience practicing Colorado criminal law. Mr. Steinberg strives to stay current with the ever changing aspects of criminal law issues and updates resulting in his extensive knowledge of successful criminal defense as well as appellate work. He is also an active member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar Association, the Colorado Trial Lawyer's Association, and the Colorado and Arapahoe Bar Associations.
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The Next Step in DNA Identification Procedures: Familial DNA

New DNA testing technology may soon be available in the nations crime labs. Crime labs could soon have new technology to help them solve cold cases….known as “familial DNA.”

Familial DNA is usd by investigators seeking to find relatives of criminal suspects. Prosecutors want the procedures approved as an investigative tool for police, and defense attorneys say they support the idea as well.

Familial searching
Familial searching is the use of family members’ DNA to identify a closely related suspect in jurisdictions where large DNA databases exist, but no exact match has been found. The first successful use of the practice was in a UK case where a man was convicted of manslaughter when he threw a brick stained with his own blood into a moving car.

Police could not get an exact match to the UK’s DNA database because the man had no criminal convictions, but police implicated him using a close relative’s DNA. The technique was used to catch a Los Angeles serial killer known as the “Grim Sleeper” in 2010.

However, critics have challenged the technology as “deeply antithetical to American values” and likely to lead to excess investigation of racial and ethnic minorities.

H. Michael’s Take

DNA evidence is, in the opinion of most criminal defense attorney’s, while certainly recognized as a double edged sword, has been used to free the innocent either accused of crimes they have not committed or to obtain the release of those in prison who have been unfairly convicted on the weakest of evidence-identification and circumstantial evidence.

Mitch Morrissey – Denver DA Morrissey makes this point in the following quote ‘the good news about partial matches is that if DNA leads police to someone who’s innocent, that same DNA should also be able to clear that person just as fast.”