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An Introduction to Forensic Science

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  1. An Introduction to Forensic Science

  2. The Basics • Forensic Science: The application of science to legal matters. • Forensic Scientist: A scientist who analyzes evidence generated by criminal or civil crimes and who can offer expert testimony concerning the evidence in a court of law.

  3. Introduction • Forensic Science has been practiced for close to 5000 years. • There are more than 150 college or university forensics programs in the U.S.

  4. What is Forensic Science? • The actual work of forensic science begins in the laboratory.

  5. The United States Forensic Science System • Over 400 public and private labs in the U.S. • Federal Agencies: Dept. of the Interior (U.S. Fish & Wildlife); Dept. of Treasury (IRS); Dept. of Justice (FBI, DEA, ATF); • Dept. of Homeland Security (Secret Service, Customs), • U.S. Postal Service (Postal Service).

  6. State and Local Crime Labs Organization of the Crime Lab: Intake Section, Analysis Area, and Storage Areas. • A physical science unit to examine drugs, soil, glass, paint, blood spatter patterns and other trace physical evidence (using chemistry, physics or geology). • A firearms (ballistics) unitto examine tool marks, weapons, firearms and bullets. • A document analysis unit to examine handwriting, typewriting, word processing and computer apps, paper and ink. . . • A biology unit to analyze body fluids, DNA, blood factors, hair, fibers, and plant life using biology, biochemistry and microbiology.

  7. So You Want to Be A Forensic Scientist? • Most forensic scientists work in crime labs on the local, state or national level. • Two major duties: Analyze evidence and testify in court as expert, not lay, witnesses. • An expert can be someone with experience, knowledge or both. • In some areas, forensic scientists will be present at crime scenes.

  8. There is a difference between forensic science and crime scene investigation. • The job of a crime scene investigator ends when evidence is delivered to the lab – that’s when the job of forensic scientist begins.

  9. The Forensics Team(No One Person Can Perform All the Roles of a Forensic Scientist)

  10. Goals of the Team • To Locate the Evidence • To Document the Evidence • To Properly Collect the Evidence • Analyze the Evidence.

  11. Difference Between the Crime Scene Team and Forensics Team • Crime Scene Team: First Responding Officer, Homicide Detectives, Medics, Medical Examiner, District Attorney, Field Evidence Technician. • Forensics Team: Criminalists, Forensic Pathologist, Forensic Anthropologist, Forensic Entomologist, Forensic Odontologist, Forensic Engineer, Behavioral Scientists, Forensic Computer Scientist

  12. Key Areas of Employment • Criminalist: • Forensic Pathologist: • Forensic Anthropologist: • Forensic Odontologist: • Forensic Engineer: • Forensic Entomologist: • Behavioral Specialist: • Computer Forensics: • Evidence Technician:


  14. The CSI Effect Trend in which TV shows increase the expectations of victims’ and jury members’ concerning forensic evidence and the level of crime scene investigation and make it more difficult for prosecutors to obtain convictions. (influences criminals as well) Source: James McGrath: Texas Wesleyan University School of Law

  15. Criminal Perspective Murder Case in Trumbull County, OH Mother and daughter murdered Perpetrator: Used bleach to wash hands Covered car interior with blankets preventing transfer Burned bodies, clothes, and other potential evidence Attempted to sink remaining evidence in a lake

  16. CSI Effect on Jurors • Expect to see solid physical evidence pointing to the defendant (minimizing circumstantial evidence). • Always assume DNA and fingerprint evidence should be found at crime scene. • Prosecutors must now ask for the TV viewing habits of potential jurors. • Prosecutors use ‘negative evidence witnesses.’ Some jurors are better informed.

  17. Ridiculous

  18. Other Myths: • Myth 1: Criminalists can examine evidence as soon as it gets to the lab. • Myth 2: One person can examine all types of evidence. • Myth 3: Fingerprints are always found. • Myth 4: Testing for drugs and chemicals in blood is quick and easy. • Myth 5: The cooperative crime scene. • Myth 6: The fully equipped crime lab. • Myth 7: The use and availability of technology.

  19. A Brief History of Forensic Science Who Is Responsible for the Creation of Modern Forensic Science? • The following is a brief list of those individuals and scientists who have made significant contributions to the field of forensics.