Can new DNA evidence be introduced after a conviction?

Although a successful outcome is always desired, a criminal defendant should keep in mind that post-conviction options may also be available. The obvious example is filing an appeal with the appropriate state or federal court. But post-conviction DNA analysis may also be available in some circumstances. 

As its name suggests, post-conviction analysis of DNA evidence is done, by request, after there has been a trial and conviction. Tennessee, like many other states, has passed laws regarding this procedure due to its increasing usage. 

Notably, the procedure is not limited only to exhibits or evidence produced at trial, but may also govern requests to analyze new DNA evidence. In some cases, DNA testing may not have been available at the time of the original trial. In other requests, more advanced technology may reveal flaws that went undetected in the original trial. 

The Innocence Project, an independent non-profit organization dedicated to criminal justice reform and the investigation of wrongful convictions, has compiled data on post-conviction DNA analysis. At least 266 prisoners have been freed, thanks to this procedure. 

As a law firm that focuses on appeals and post-conviction advocacy, we have seen many instances where an accused did not realize that the fight was not over. New DNA evidence might not even have to conclusively exonerate an accused; establishing a reasonable doubt regarding his or her guilt may be sufficient to overturn the conviction. If you have been convicted and are wondering if there may be other strategies still available, check out our firm’s website to learn more about this area of law.

Source: FindLaw, “Post-Conviction DNA Analysis,” copyright 2016, Thomson Reuters

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Patrick T. McNally, Attorney at Law
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