Zealous Criminal Defense Representation

  1. Home
  2.  » 
  3. Violent Crime
  4.  » What exactly is junk science?

What exactly is junk science?

On Behalf of | May 28, 2024 | Violent Crime |

Anyone who is accused of criminal offenses has certain rights. They have the right to an attorney’s representation and to have a jury hear their case. They also have the right of discovery, which means that the prosecutor must give them access to any evidence that the prosecution intends to use at trial.

In fact, the right of discovery is so strong that prosecutors may even have to provide evidence they don’t intend to present, such as exculpatory evidence located by police officers during an investigation. Even if a review of the evidence doesn’t turn up proof of another potential suspect, it could help a defendant and their lawyer better respond to the criminal charges.

In some cases, prosecutors build their cases around junk science because that is all they have. What actually constitutes junk science?

Not all science is equally credible

For scientific research to have any validity, other professionals must be able to replicate the study. Junk science in the courtroom relies on unverifiable or questionable scientific research. 911-call analysis is a perfect example of junk science that prosecutors have frequently relied on to establish that someone broke the law.

911-call analysis entails listening to recordings of how someone communicated with professionals when calling for medical or police support in an emergency. Factors ranging from the speed with which someone talks to their tone of voice could help prosecutors try to convince the courts that the person who called 911 was the criminal.

However, the basis for such claims is often paper-thin, as every person has unique vocal traits and patterns. Beyond that, people respond to trauma and fear differently, meaning that indicators that could show one person felt guilty are simply signs of anxiety in someone else.

Blood spatter analysis is another common form of junk science used to tie someone to a crime. There are a host of other scientifically-questionable forms of evidence, including lie detector test results. If the prosecutor intends to use scientifically-questionable evidence to tie someone to a crime or establish that they had criminal intent, a defense attorney could potentially fight those charges by bringing in expert witnesses.

Having credible scientific professionals explain why junk science isn’t believable can be an important element of a successful criminal defense strategy. Those who make use of the right of discovery can potentially nullify the evidence that the prosecution thinks could lead to a conviction.