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Principles of Forensic DNA for Officers of the Court

Understanding Limitations

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Laboratories can produce accurate testing without complying with all consensus standards or without accreditation. Each instance of evaluation of results from a laboratory that is not accredited, or that may be questioned in regard to compliance with a specific standard, must be considered on a situational basis.

For example, Standard 17 of the QAS refers to subcontracting. A laboratory that subcontracts may not meet this standard and so would not be accredited. However, that finding has no significant bearing on the validity of its own testing. Another example is that a laboratory may not have complied with the letter of its policy and procedures on equipment calibration, but may be able to demonstrate that all its QC measures were satisfied.

Scientifically, these situations have to be judged on the likely impact on the quality of the specific test results.

Legally, non-conformances may become relevant in assessing DNA evidence admissibility or weight.

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