Criminal Law Experts: Don’t Let Your Defense Go Up In Smoke

As many of us know, criminal law and the justice system is often depicted in popular television and movies.  Viewers know what they will see: forensic experts and a bit of drama.  Although it seems glamorous, real life is not as straightforward and trustworthy.  In a criminal case, the expert’s knowledge must be examined.  Attorneys who are well-versed in criminal law will know which expert to rely on for proper information, which are diligent, and how forensic science really fits into a trial.

For defendants, having experts that are open-minded and current in their field of expertise is vital during a trial.  With new technology regarding testing for DNA, the criminal justice system has seen many innocent persons who were convicted of certain crimes exonerated.  In addition to DNA testing, the field of arson science is also being scrutinized.  Since 1989, there have been 31 people exonerated across the U.S. based on either new evidence or new scrutiny of the old evidence showing that they did not commit an arson crime for which they were convicted.

The crux of the issue for defendants accused of a crime involving arson is that there were many myths that were accepted as truths.  For example, it was always thought that sagging mattress springs indicated that a flammable liquid or smoldering cigarette caused the fire.  Scientists have now concluded that this was a total myth, and that mattress springs have no probative value.  Another renowned tool for investigators was lines of demarcation caused by burn patterns.  Once believed to show accelerant use, it has now been proven that these irregularly shaped patterns do not point specifically to incendiary liquids.

These types of myths and many others were published by the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration and by the National Bureau of Standards (currently named the National Institute of Standards and Technology) starting in the 1970s.  Finally, in the mid-1980s, there were concerns about the previously published long-held beliefs.  After a meeting of experts, NFPA 921: Guide for Fire and Explosion Investigations was published, revolutionizing arson investigations.

Retaining an experienced attorney in criminal defense is vital to ensure the forensic evidence is analyzed properly and expert witnesses are truly qualified. Criminal charges can result in serious consequences and impact your life in multiple ways.  Contact Wendy Pelle-Beer & Associates at (718) 313-0770 for the representation you deserve.


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