U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Principles of Forensic DNA for Officers of the Court

Basic Discovery: The Duty to Preserve (cont.)

Home  |  Glossary  |  Resources  |  Help  |  Contact Us  |  Course Map

The specific failure to preserve biological crime scene samples for DNA testing has been held not to violate due process principles in the absence of bad faith. The police must know before destruction that the evidence would in fact have exculpated the suspect/defendant.

"[R]espondent has not shown that the police knew the semen samples would have exculpated him when they failed to perform certain tests or to refrigerate the boy's clothing; this evidence was simply an avenue of investigation that might have led in any number of directions. The presence or absence of bad faith by the police for purposes of the Due Process Clause must necessarily turn on the police's knowledge of the exculpatory value of the evidence at the time it was lost or destroyed." 3

    Back Forward