Backlog of Untested Rape Kits Affects Defendants Too
There has been a lot of publicity in the media recently about the deplorable state of progress on rape kit testing in Florida. It has been reported that more than 10,000 test kits remain untested on FDLE crime lab shelves.
The reasons for the backlog are varied, but for some innocent rape crime defendants the fact is that evidence on one of those shelves may exist which could clear their name.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) says that some of the kits are many years old and pre-date the use of DNA analysis. If these kits were processed using modern technology it might pinpoint more clearly who might have been responsible for a rape and, in fact, may have been responsible for other crimes, too.
The FDLE says that the funding available for crime labs and rape test kits is insufficient for staff to be able to handle the backlog. Staff turnover has also had an effect on the backlog, which was not thought to have been as bad as it is. Other reasons for not tackling the test kit numbers include the fact that some rape victims discontinue a claim that they have been raped, some defendants admit guilt and some prosecutors do not actively continue the search for a suspect.
The backlog has a double sided effect on sexual battery cases in Florida. There are no doubt many rapists and other criminals who have managed to evade being caught could be found if the rape kits were processed with much more urgency than has been shown. As has already been said above, the rape test kits when processed for DNA may shine light on other cases which do not involve rape as well.
The other side of the issue is that in some cases people have been arrested for sexual battery in Miami and may even have been convicted based on evidence that did not include definitive chemical testing. In some cases, people have remained in jail for many years based on a wrongful conviction which could have been decided on shaky evidence or even a so-called “confession”.
In a few of these cases, wrongful convictions have already been overturned well after the trial. This was after DNA evidence has explicitly shown that the person could not have committed the crime or the crime for which they have been convicted was found by the evidence to have been committed by someone else.
In many of these wrongful convictions it has only been the efforts of an experienced and dedicated Miami criminal defense attorney, criminal defense lawyers in Florida, as well as friends and family of the prisoner that has led to the determination of the wrongful conviction.
There are 10,000 rape test kits which have not yet been processed across Florida and that is only an early estimate – the true number could be much higher.
How many people locked up in one of Florida’s jails right at the moment, or who are awaiting trial for a crime they did not commit, could be cleared if adequate funds could be directed at what is an appalling state of affairs in the state’s crime labs?
If you have a family member who you believe was wrongfully convicted for rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, or any other crime you should not wait any longer but have the case reassessed by an experienced Florida criminal defense lawyer.
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If you have any questions about this or any other criminal accusation, call Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer Albert Quirantes at: 305-644-1800 or visit our homepage www.CriminalDefendant.com for a direct link to the office or a text message or a map and directions to our office.