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n. scientifically, deoxyribonucleic acid, a chromonal double chain (the famous "double helix") in the nucleus of each living cell the combination of which determines each individual's hereditary characteristics. In law, the importance is the discovery that each person's DNA is different and is found in each living cell, so a hair, blood, skin or any part of the body can be used to identify and distinguish an individual from all other people. DNA testing can result in proof of one's involvement or lack of involvement in a crime scene. While recent DNA tests have proved a convicted killer on death row did not commit a crime and resulted in his release, current debate concerns whether DNA evidence is scientifically certain enough to be admitted in trials. The trend is strongly in favor of admission.

Copyright © 1981-2005 by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill. All Right reserved.


abbreviation for deoxyribonucleic acid, a chemical which is found in virtually every cell in the body and which carries genetic information. Except for identical twins, each person's DNA is unique. DNA profiling doesn't allow the examination of every single difference between people's DNA so the concentration will be on those aspects which are most likely to yield a difference. DNA can be extracted from any cells that contain a structure called the nucleus, for example, blood, semen, saliva or hair.

Mitochondrial DNA is inherited only from a person's mother. Brothers and sisters have the same mitochondrial DNA type as their mother. This feature of mitochondrial DNA can be used for body identification. The γ-chromosome is present only in men and is largely unchanged as it passes through the male line of a family. The usefulness of the technique in criminal matters is vastly enhanced by the extent to which it is possible to compare a sample with other individuals. To this end there is a National DNA Database maintained by the ASSOCIATION OF CHIEF POLICE OFFICERS and managed by the FORENSIC SCIENCE SERVICE. Techniques vary. There is a UK offence of DNA theft. It is also of assistance in paternity matters.

Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006
References in periodicals archive ?
speltoides repetitive DNA fraction to distant genera and reflecting the evolutionary history of the species.
These behaviors are associated with changes in the content of repetitive DNA, Figure 5 (below, right).
Characterisation of distant Alstroemeria hybrids: application of highly repetitive DNA sequences from A.
Besides polyploidization and duplication, genome size differences are embodied in noncoding and repetitive DNA (SanMiguel et al., 1996, 1998).
An Austrian biologist theorized that the erosion of telomeres, highly repetitive DNA at the end of chromosomes, might function as a kind of internal clock that determines when a species will become extinct.
Other crucial markers were so-called microsatellites, regions of repetitive DNA that can expand or shrink from one generation to the next.
Through telomeres, caps composed of repetitive DNA sequences at the ends of chromosomes.
Believed to be the original ancestral grass, it has remained genetically unaltered for thousands of years and, combined with its small number of chromosomes and very little repetitive DNA, provides the ideal subject for scientific study.
Longevity: Bits of simple repetitive DNA sequences at the end of chromosomes (called telomeres), formerly thought to be biological "junk," have been shown to prolong the longevity of cells.
The mechanisms for this, such as loss of length of telomeres (the repetitive DNA sequences located at the ends of linear chromosomes) have been highlighted in an excellent review by Hayflick himself [13].
The authors argue that changes in repetitive DNA sequences are often involved in first predisposing a region to allow for alternate epigenetic states and, further, that changes in repetitive sequences ultimately allow an epigenetic change to eventually manifest itself as a change in DNA sequence variation.

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