I just read a fascinating legal case recently adjudicated in Brazil and it brings up some interesting questions, for me at least. It involves identical twin child support payments. It seems a pair of brothers have long used their identical twin status to impersonate one another, particularly in regards to swapping sexual partners without the knowledge of the woman.
In any case, a girl was impregnated by one of them and a DNA test proves this but not which one. The judge ordered both the men to pay child support in lieu of a second, more refined test that only sometimes differentiates between identical twins.
The Legal Ramification of Identical Twin Child Support
The case is salacious and thus getting headlines in the news but what interests me is the more esoteric legal questions. If it is sometimes impossible to use DNA to differentiate between identical twins, then who is the criminal, or in this case, the father?
In the United States the standard for conviction is proving the guilt of the defendant beyond a reasonable doubt. If the defendant has an identical twin and neither of them has alibis for the time of the crime, how am I to convict one or the other?
In the case of the identical twin child support, we know for a fact that a man who is not the father is now legally required to pay for the upbringing of the child. In the case of a murder or other crime, the punishment might well be years in prison.
What’s a juror to decide? What’s a judge to decide on appeal? Certainly, an appeal of any conviction is perfectly reasonable, I didn’t do it, it was my identical twin.
There are all sorts of expert witnesses who end up sending the wrong person to jail. I wrote years ago about how Blood Spatter Analysis is largely a bogus science and yet it still results in convictions.
In the case of DNA analysis, the chance for an unjust conviction is greatly reduced, which is a great thing. It’s not perfect and this case illustrates one of the problems.
I recognize the situation of the identical twin child support is quite rare in the annals of criminal law but I still find it fascinating.
If a case like this went to trial and you found yourself as a juror, what do you think is the correct resolution?