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Chapter 1 INTRODUCTION. Definition. In its broadest definition, forensic science is the application of science to criminal and civil laws.

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definition
Definition
  • In its broadest definition, forensic science is the application of science to criminal and civil laws.
  • The subject matter of this book emphasizes the application of science to those criminal and civil laws that are enforced by police agencies in a criminal justice system.
  • Forensic science owes its origins to individuals such as Bertillon, Galton, Lattes, Goddard, Osborn, and Locard, who developed the principles and techniques needed to identify or compare physical evidence.

INTRODUCTION

history
History
  • Mathieu Orfila—the father of forensic toxicology.
  • Alphonse Bertillion—devised the first scientific system of personal identification in 1879.
  • Francis Galton—conducted the first definitive study of fingerprints and their classification.
  • Leone Lattes—developed a procedure to determine blood type from dried bloodstains.
  • Calvin Goddard—used a comparison microscope to determine if a particular gun fired a bullet.
  • Albert Osborn—developed the fundamental principles of document examination.

INTRODUCTION

history4
History
  • Walter McCrone—utilized microscopy and other analytical methodologies to examine evidence.
  • Hans Gross—wrote the first treatise describing the application of scientific principles to the field of criminal investigation.
  • Edmond Locard—incorporared Gross’ principles within a workable crime laboratory.
  • Locard’s Exchange Principle—states that when a criminal comes in contact with an object or person, a cross-transfer of evidence occurs.

INTRODUCTION

the crime lab
The Crime Lab
  • The development of crime laboratories in the United States has been characterized by rapid growth accompanied by a lack of national and regional planning and coordination.
  • At present, approximately 350 public crime laboratories operate at various levels of government—federal, state, county, and municipal.

INTRODUCTION

the crime lab6
The Crime Lab
  • The ever increasing number of crime laboratories is partly the result of the following:
    • Supreme Court decisions in the 1960s responsible for police placing greater emphasis on scientifically evaluated evidence.
    • Crime laboratories inundated with drug specimens due to accelerated drug abuse.
    • The advent of DNA profiling.

INTRODUCTION

technical support
Technical Support
  • The technical support provided by crime laboratories can be assigned to five basic services.
    • Physical Science Unit incorporates the principles of chemistry, physics, and geology to identify and compare physical evidence.
    • Biology Unit applies the knowledge of biological sciences in order to investigate blood samples, body fluids, hair, and fiber samples.
    • Firearms Unit investigates discharged bullets, cartridge cases, shotgun shells, and ammunition.

INTRODUCTION

technical support8
Technical Support
  • Document Unit provides the skills needed for handwriting analysis and other questioned-document issues.
  • Photographic Unit applies specialized photographic techniques for recording and examining physical evidence. Some crime laboratories may offer the optional services of toxicology, fingerprint analysis, voiceprint analysis, evidence collection, and polygraph administration.

INTRODUCTION

technical support9
Technical Support
  • Optional Services by Full-Service Labs
    • Toxicology Unit examines body fluids and organs for the presence of drugs and poisons.
    • Latent Fingerprint Unit processes and examines evidence for latent fingerprints.
    • Polygraph Unit conducts polygraph or lie detector tests.
    • Voiceprint Analysis Unit attempts to tie a recorded voice to a particular suspect.
    • Evidence-Collection Unit dispatches specially trained personnel to the crime scene to collect and preserve physical evidence.

INTRODUCTION

skills of a forensic scientist
Skills of a Forensic Scientist
  • A forensic scientist must be skilled in applying the principles and techniques of the physical and natural sciences to the analysis of the many types of evidence that may be recovered during a criminal investigation.
  • A forensic scientist may also provide expert court testimony.
  • An expert witness is an individual whom the court determines possesses knowledge relevant to the trial that is not expected of the average person.

INTRODUCTION

skills of a forensic scientist11
Skills of a Forensic Scientist
  • The expert witness is called on to evaluate evidence based on specialized training and experience that the court lacks the expertise to do.
  • The expert will then express an opinion as to the significance of the findings.
  • Forensic scientists also participate in training law enforcement personnel in the proper recognition, collection, and preservation of physical evidence.

INTRODUCTION

the frye standard
The Frye Standard
  • The Frye v. United States decision set guidelines for determining the admissibility of scientific evidence into the courtroom.
  • To meet the Frye standard, the evidence in question must be “generally accepted” by the scientific community.

INTRODUCTION

frye not absolute
Frye Not Absolute
  • However, in the 1993 case of Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceutical, Inc., the U.S. Supreme Court asserted that the Frye standard is not an absolute prerequisite to the admissibility of scientific evidence.
  • Trial judges were said to be ultimately responsible as “gatekeepers” for the admissibility and validity of scientific evidence presented in their courts, as well as all expert testimony.

INTRODUCTION

the daubert criteria
The Daubert Criteria
  • In Daubert, the Supreme Court offered some guidelines as to how a judge can gauge scientific evidence:

1) Whether the scientific technique or theory can be (and has been) tested.

2) Whether the technique or theory has been subject to peer review and publication.

3) The technique’s potential rate of error.

INTRODUCTION

the daubert criteria15
The Daubert Criteria

4) Existence and maintenance of standards controlling the technique’s operation.

5) Whether the scientific theory or method has attracted widespread acceptance within a relevant scientific community.

INTRODUCTION

special forensic science services
Special Forensic Science Services
  • A number of special forensic science services are available to the law enforcement community to augment the services of the crime laboratory.
  • These services include forensic psychiatry, forensic odontology, computer science, and forensic engineering.

INTRODUCTION

special forensic science services17
Special Forensic Science Services
  • After a human body expires there are several stages of death.
    • Rigor mortis results in the shortening of muscle tissue and the stiffening of body parts in the position at death (occurs within the first 24 hours and disappears within 36 hours).
    • Livor mortis results in the settling of blood in areas of the body closest to the ground (begins immediately on death and continues up to 12 hours).
    • Algor mortis results in the loss of heat by a body (a general rule, beginning about an hour after death, the body loses heat by 1 to 1-1/2 degrees Fahrenheit per hour until the body reaches the environmental temperature).

INTRODUCTION

special forensic science services18
Special Forensic Science Services
  • Forensic Psychiatry is an area in which the relationship between human behavior and legal proceedings is examined.
  • Forensic Odontology involves using teeth to provide information about the identification of victims when a body is left in an unrecognizable state; also investigates bite marks.

INTRODUCTION

special forensic science services19
Special Forensic Science Services
  • Forensic Engineering is concerned with failure analysis, accident reconstruction, and causes and origins of fires or explosions.
  • Forensic Computer Science involves the examination of digital evidence.

INTRODUCTION

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Figure 1– 2  Bertillon’s system of bodily measurements as used for the identification of an individual. Courtesy Sirchie Finger Print Laboratories, Inc., Youngsville, N.C., www.sirchie.com.

review questions
Review Questions
  • Define Criminology and Criminalistics.
  • Why is Mathieu Orfila considered ““the father of forensic toxicology?
  • What was Francis Galton’’s principal contribution to forensic science?
  • How did Calvin Goddard advance the science of firearms examination?
  • What is Locard’’s exchange principle?
  • What major advance in forensic science did the state of California undertake in 1972?
  • How does the British system of forensic laboratories differ from that of the United States
  • List three reasons for the unparalleled growth of crime laboratories in the United States since the 1960s.
  • Describe how the structure of the U.S. federal government has affected the organization of crime labs in the United States.
review questions22
Review Questions
  • List three main reasons for the wide variation in total services offered by crime labs in different communities
  • Describe the basic duties of the physical science unit in a crime lab and give three examples of the type of work performed by a physical science unit.
  • In addition to the physical science unit, what four units typically are found in full- service crime labs? List at least one function performed by each of these units
  • List two optional units found in most crime labs and give at least one example of the type of work done by each.
  • List and describe the purpose of the various federal crime lab units.
  • List the main functions of the forensic science areas (serology, anthropology, entomology, odontology, toxicology, ballistics/firearms; cybertechnology, pathology.
  • What important principle was established in the case of Frye v. United States?
  • How did the court’s ruling in the case of Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc. affect the admissibility of scientific evidence in federal courts?