Bite mark evidence has been a prosecution tool since the 1950s, especially in burglary, homicide, child abuse, and rape cases. In fact it has been said that without bite mark evidence, many violent crimes could not be prosecuted successfully. This forensic principle is premised upon the idea that no two people have the same dentitition as to size, shape and teeth alignment.
Hundreds of cases have admitted bite mark identification into evidence that have resulted in conviction. The accuracy of bite mark evidence is currently under assault. A major challenge to bit mark evidence is that it lacks an adequate scientific foundation, as it is not based on reliable scientific methodology. In fact, several scientific bodies have recently released reports critical of bite mark evidence. Each has determined that bite mark analysis does not meet scientific standards for foundational validity.
This article will examine this growing controversy and recent court cases on the topic. The courts show great reluctance in overturning the many years of precedent concerning the admissibility of the evidence, but the tide may be changing.
Pa. B. Ass'n Q.
Samuel D. Hodge Jr. and Robert E. Rains, Bite Mark Identification - A Reliable Forensic Tool or Junk Science, 88 Pa. B. Ass'n Q. 109 (2017).