Modern forensic technology affords law enforcement crime-fighting
opportunities never presented before. The District Attorney’s Office
realizes the potential of using DNA and other forensics evidence to
identify, capture, and prosecute violent offenders and has established
a renowned Forensic Sciences Section to help reach that
Comprised of experienced deputy district attorneys, the Forensic
Sciences Section is committed to the advancement of law enforcement’s
DNA analysis capabilities, the utilization of forensic evidence to
solve and prosecute cold cases, and the prosecution of medical
providers who are criminally liable for a patient’s death. Forensic
Sciences prosecutors also advise other deputy district attorneys on
trial strategy, case law and analysis of expert opinions in any cases
where DNA evidence is introduced.
Crime Lab Advisory Board
Using DNA technology, law enforcement has the real potential to
catch rapists, murderers, and other violent criminals before they
become serial attackers. Because local crime laboratories have been
historically underfunded, however, law enforcement cannot take
advantage of this 21st-century crime-fighting tool.
As a result, the District Attorney’s Office – recognizing that
forensic science is a core public safety issue – has created the Crime
Lab Advisory Board to ensure the continued improvement and quality of
forensic services in Los Angeles County. The Board, chaired by the
District Attorney, includes representatives from victim’s rights
groups, law enforcement, the scientific and academic communities, and
the legal community. Its goal is to help with funding and policy
formulation for existing crime labs in the City and County of Los
Angeles, as well as to ensure that the soon-to-be-built Los Angeles
Regional Crime Lab is a state-of-the-art facility with adequate lab
space, proper equipment, and qualified staff to meet DNA analysis
Cold Case Task Force
Deputy district attorneys assigned to the Cold Case Task Force work
with local law enforcement agencies, dedicating resources to a review
of unsolved homicides. Prosecutors help select evidence for DNA
analysis or other testing to solve these cold cases and then take them
to trial. Through cold case tracking, previously unidentified
murderers have been brought to justice.
The Forensic Sciences Section prosecutes medical providers whose
actions or inaction make them criminally liable for a patient’s death.
Prosecutors also work with the state Medical Board, county Health
Services and others to target unlicensed medical facilities who are
providing dangerously inadequate care.
Post-Conviction DNA Testing
California Penal Code Section 1405 allows convicted persons to
petition the courts for DNA testing of evidence which might prove
their innocence. Prosecutors in the Forensic Sciences Section work
cooperatively with defense attorneys to obtain police reports,
information on the existence of evidence, and District Attorney case
files for appropriate cases. In December 2001, the Superior Court in
Los Angeles released the first inmate in California under this
Convicted Offender DNA Collection
To ensure that DNA samples are taken from all criminals convicted
of eligible felony offenses in Los Angeles County, attorneys in the
Forensic Sciences Section have created protocols and court orders
which are used countywide. Prosecutors are currently working with
officials throughout the County to automate the collection of DNA
samples in appropriate cases. When those samples are analyzed, their
DNA information is entered into the state’s Convicted Offender
Database, where it can be matched with DNA evidence from crime scenes
to identify culprits.
Sexual Assault Response Team (S.A.R.T.)
Working with the Coroner’s Office, deputy district attorneys have
created a program for postmortem sexual assault examinations in Los
Angeles County. S.A.R.T. nurses now respond to every death that
appears to have been sexually motivated. Nurses use special medical
devices and photography to gather evidence of sexual assault to better
inform the medical examiners and prosecutors about these homicides.
DNA Fingerprint, Unsolved Crime & Innocence
The DNA Fingerprint, Unsolved Crime and Innocence Protection Act
will enable California law enforcement to have the most advanced
tool available to solve, prevent and fight crime. The initiative
immediately requires all convicted felons to provide a non-invasive
DNA sample, which does not require a blood sample (DNA is
collected with a simple mouth swab) for inclusion in a statewide
It also allows local agencies to collect DNA from those arrested
for rape and murder. In 2009, all individuals arrested for felony
offenses will be tested. Funding for the expanded testing is paid for
through a small increase in penalty assessments for criminal
Experts assert that a DNA Fingerprint provides the most conclusive
proof of identity giving law enforcement the ability to solve crimes,
convict the guilty and exonerate the wrongfully accused.
The DNA Fingerprint test provides nothing more than identification.
There is absolutely no genetic information or other personal data that
can be taken from the test.
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Forensic Sciences Section
Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office
201 S. Figueroa Rm. 1617
Los Angeles, CA. 90012
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04 Feb 2011
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