Reporting on forensic biology findings given activity level issues in the Netherlands

Bas Kokshoorn, Maartje Luijsterburg

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Abstract

There appears to be some hesitation within the forensic biology community to formally evaluate and report on findings given activity level propositions. This hesitance in part stems from concerns about the lack of relevant data on the dynamics of biological traces and doubt about the relevance of such expert opinions to the trier of fact. At the Netherlands Forensic Institute formal evaluative opinions on the probability of case findings given propositions at the activity level are provided since 2013, if requested by a mandating authority. In this study we share the results from a retrospective analysis of 74 of such requests. We explore which party initiates requests, the types of cases that are submitted, the sources of data being used to assign probabilities to DNA transfer, persistence, prevalence and recovery (TPPR) events, the conclusions that were drawn by the scientists, and how the conclusions were used by the courts. This retrospective analysis of cases demonstrates that published sources of data are generally available and can be used to address DNA TPPR events in most cases, although significant gaps still remain. The study furthermore shows that reporting on forensic biology findings given activity level propositions has been generally accepted by the district and appeal courts, as well as the other parties in the criminal justice system in the Netherlands.
Original languageEnglish
Article number111545
Pages (from-to)1-10
JournalForensic Science International
Volume343
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2023

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