Burglary Cases Dismissed Due to Denver Police DNA Errors

In November, the Denver Police Department discovered that multiple DNA samples were scrambled, matching DNA samples to the wrong burglary cases.  This error caused prosecutors to dismiss four burglary cases.  Officials for Denver Police say the error was due to faulty instructions from the manufacturer of the DNA matching machine.  In June of 2011, the DNA matching machine froze prompting the analyst to call the manufacturer.  The manufacturer provided the analyst with a map to put the samples back in the correct order.  It was not until this November that the crime lab realized the error.  The lab realized the error when the machine froze again and the manufacturer provided a different map.

The people charged with the burglaries confessed to committing at least one burglary, but due to the error, the people were charged with the wrong burglary.  Lieutenant Matt Murray, the Chief of Staff, says that each person who was charged did in fact leave DNA at a crime scene.  Murray says none of the charged people served any additional time due to the botched cases

There are multiple types of burglary.  The highest level burglary is a class three felony.  There are also misdemeanor level burglaries.  Generally, burglary requires that a person, without permission or legal authority, breaks or enters and remains in a space with the intent to commit a crime therein.  Usually, when people think of burglary, they think of a person breaking into a stranger’s home and stealing something of value.  While that is certainly burglary, the “crime therein” does not have to be theft, nor does the home or building have to belong to a stranger.

For example, a person can be charged with burglary as an act of domestic violence.  This might occur if a person is at his girlfriend’s home, they get into an argument, he refuses to leave and then pushes her causing her injury or pain.  This may be charged as first degree burglary, which is class three felony.  The boyfriend remained in the home without permission and committed the crime of third degree assault while in the home.  This would be charged as an act of domestic violence if the boyfriend and girlfriend had an intimate relationship.

Source:  Denver Post, January 14, 2014