New Study Says Bite Mark Evidence Should Not be Used in Criminal Cases

bite mark evidence

Bite mark evidence as a forensic science technique used at crime scenes has been under fire for some time.

Now a new paper has urged law enforcement agencies to discontinue its use.

The paper in Journal of Law and the Biosciences outlines the legal basis for the rise of the bite-mark identification technique and its shortcomings.

An article in Science Daily states dentists claim that they can accurately link a bite mark to the one and only set of teeth in the world.

The article points out there is “no sound basis for believing that forensic dentists can do such a thing.”

Before bite mark evidence was used in a criminal case in 1974, forensic dentists only used bite mark evidence to compare the victims’ teeth against their dental records, which often included full-mouth X-rays. However, in 1975 bite marks were used to try to identify an offender for the first time in the United States, in California.

Bite mark evidence was one of the techniques used in the 1970s to convict the serial killer Ted Bundy.

In recent years, criminology experts and scientists have questioned the accuracy of bite mark evidence. In the 13 years from 2000 to 2013, at least 24 men who were charged or convicted of murder or rape through bite mark evidence were exonerated, reported USA Today.

The Science Daily article points out studies of wrongful convictions based on DNA exoneration’s found flawed forensic sciences like bite mark and hair sampling evidence to be second only to eyewitness errors in leading to wrongful convictions. Error rates by forensic dentists are among the highest recorded in forensic science.

The American Board of Forensic Odontology studied 100 photographs of bite mark evidence from cases.

The research team asked three key questions including whether the bite mark had distinct, identifiable arches and individual tooth marks. They found for only 14 of the 100 cases asked did at least 80 per cent of the examiners give the same answers.

Crime forensics has been a fast-growing industry over the past three decades. Unfortunately, the number of wrongful convictions from junk science has also increased in that time, leading the authors of an article in Scientific American to conclude the criminal justice system has a problem with forensics.

At Broden & Mickelsen, LLP, we are experienced Dallas criminal defense lawyers are dedicated to providing aggressive and ethical representation to individuals and businesses charged with crimes.