Bite Mark Analysis

Criminal Law Bulletin, Vol. 43, 2007

Case Legal Studies Research Paper No. 08-06

41 Pages Posted: 23 Jan 2008

See all articles by Paul C. Giannelli

Paul C. Giannelli

Case Western Reserve University School of Law


Courts have admitted bite mark comparison evidence in homicide, rape, and child abuse cases. By the 1980s, the technique had gained widespread judicial acceptance. Hundreds of cases have admitted this type of evidence, and no reported case has rejected it. Moreover, some courts speak of bite mark comparison as a "science." Indeed, its acceptance is so well-established that several courts have taken judicial notice of its reliability, implying that the validity of the technique is not subject to reasonable dispute.

Yet, the scientific foundations for bite mark comparisons has never been demonstrated. Such basic issues as the uniqueness of the human dentition have not been established. Moreover, there is no agreement concerning the accuracy of these comparisons or about the best analytical procedure for making this determination. Recent DNA exonerations of defendants convicted based on bite mark analysis has now undermined the legal status of this method of proof.

Keywords: Bite mark, scientific evidence, dental identification, DNA analysis

JEL Classification: K14

Suggested Citation

Giannelli, Paul C., Bite Mark Analysis. ; Case Legal Studies Research Paper No. 08-06. Available at SSRN:

Paul C. Giannelli (Contact Author)

Case Western Reserve University School of Law ( email )

11075 East Boulevard
Cleveland, OH 44106-7148
United States
216-368-2098 (Phone)
216-368-2086 (Fax)

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