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Reliability of dental evidence

On Behalf of | Feb 8, 2021 | Criminal Defense |

If you look at Hollywood movies and television shows, it seems that two pieces of evidence tend to always be the final nail in the coffin for the accused. These include fingerprints and dental marks. However, unlike fingerprints, there is very little confidence in dental evidence. In fact, many attorneys and experts in California have called for its removal from cases. So, how reliable is dental evidence really? Read on to learn more about this common yet controversial source of evidence.

Lack of validity

Over 10 years ago, the National Academy of Sciences distributed a report stating that bite mark evidence introduced into a variety of cases was hard to validate. In 2015, Dr. Iain Pretty and Dr. Adam Freeman set out to prove this further. They met with the ABFO-certified dentists to perform a quick but simple experiment using a “decision tree.”

In that “decision tree” were a number of bite marks, many from within their own case files. They asked the dentists to determine if the bite marks could be properly analyzed, or if they were even bite marks at all. The results were shocking as most of the experts could not agree with each other on the validity of some of the bite marks.

Individual human dentition

One of the reasons why so many criminal defense attorneys push back on the introduction of dental evidence is because it has not yet proven to be as credible as human DNA. The reason for that is because, unlike DNA, human dentition is not unique to every person.

In addition, human skin is not exactly the best surface to record a person’s bite marks. That is because human skin expands, contracts and begins to heal itself rather quickly. All these factors lead to a bite’s original mark looking completely different within just a few hours after the incident.

If you believe that a bite mark is going to be used against you, it is important to consult with an attorney. A qualified attorney who understands and can explain the severe flaws behind this type of “evidence” may be able to help you reach the best outcome in court.