Many criminal cases involve the use of forensics and measurement in the attempt to discover evidence. It is important that criminal defense lawyers understand both forensic science and metrology in order to build a successful defense case. This is especially important when considering measurement uncertainty or the degree of error that sometimes exists when measurements are taken to be used as evidence. In order to prevent these errors from negatively affecting a case, criminal defense attorneys must have a clear understanding of metrology.
What Is Metrology?
Metrology is the scientific study of measurement. There are a number of ways this applies to forensic science, making metrology an important topic for criminal defense lawyers to understand. In a criminal case, metrology refers to the measurement of things that can be used as evidence to either prove innocence or guilt. Examples of metrology used in this sense would be identifying an illegal substance by measuring its weight and volume, measurements of blood alcohol content to prove intoxication, and even DNA testing. Radar speed detection also falls under metrology.
What Is Measurement Uncertainty?
Metrology is composed of three main parts: ability to be traced, calibration, and uncertainty. Measurement uncertainty is considered to be the degree of error sometimes present in calculations due to the ability to be traced and calibrated. It is an issue of concern that criminal defense attorneys deal with when building a case.
Within the sciences of forensic and measurement, there is an allowable range of results to account for inaccuracies and differences in substances that cannot be detected or prevented. In other words, the study of measurement assumes that even precise calculations can be somewhat inaccurate. This is why a value that falls within a recognized range is considered to be accurate and acceptable. This concept is based upon the fact that there is no such thing as a perfect measurement and all values are purely speculation.
The Importance of Measurement Uncertainty In Criminal Defense
Whether a value is inaccurate due to measurement error, inconsistency, or some other variable, this uncertainty may present an opportunity to argue certain evidence based on measurement. Yet in order for criminal defense lawyers to utilize this opportunity, they need to understand metrology and how the issue of uncertainty can apply. Prosecutors will try to present evidence, including measurements, as fact; in actuality, there is a distinct possibility that provided values may be inaccurate. Experienced criminal defense attorneys must question all values to determine their accuracy and whether any errors were made, or if the idea of uncertainty can stand in other ways.
Based on this information, it is critical that anyone facing criminal charges work with experienced criminal defense lawyers who understand both metrology and forensic science and the concept of measurement uncertainty. When addressed in court, this idea of uncertainty can work in favor of the defense if properly researched and argued. When criminal defense attorneys can present enough reasons why uncertainty is significant, it can put the prosecution in the position of needing to further prove the accuracy of the evidence!
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