Question: How important is DNA evidence in a sex crime case in Wisconsin?

Answer: In many sexual assault cases, DNA evidence is of enormous importance. In other cases, it is not important at all. What you have to ask yourself is, what is the issue in this case? What are we actually arguing about in this case? If you have a case where everyone agrees that sexual intercourse happens and the question is whether it was with consent or whether it was without consent, the DNA is not going to answer that question. However, there are other cases where there is a dispute over whether any sexual activity happened or there’s a dispute about the identity of the defendant. In those cases, DNA can be the key to the whole case. It can be very convincing, very persuasive evidence of the identity of a person. It can be very convincing evidence of whether the defendant had contact in different ways with the complaining witness.

On the other hand, under the right circumstances, the lack of DNA evidence can be very good evidence showing that a sexual assault did not happen. DNA evidence is most frequently—almost always—gathered by and tested by the police or other agents of the state or the government. It is not the case that they always follow proper procedures; mistakes are made, test results can be misinterpreted. So it is very important to consult with a knowledgeable attorney and work with them and make sure that you have somebody who knows how to understand and how to challenge DNA evidence.

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