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Introduction to Forensic Science

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  1. Introduction to Forensic Science

  2. What is Forensic Science? Brainstorm with someone next to you and write down a simple definition.

  3. Forensic Science • The application of scientific knowledge and methodology to legal problems and criminal investigations

  4. Forensic Scientist Job Description: • Process and document crime scenes • Collect and preserve evidence • Analyze and compare evidence in laboratory • Reconstruction of data (form the “best theory” of events in the case)

  5. Degree Requirements • B.S. in science (preferred to be in biology, chemistry or forensic science) • Some schools specialize in a forensic science B.S. degree (ex. John Jay College of Criminal Justice) • •

  6. Forensic Scientist Skills Needed: • Good observation skills – use 5 senses • Analytical skills – ability to identify problem, organize info, draw conclusions • Deductive reasoning – using logical steps to draw a conclusion based on facts or evidence

  7. Are Forensic Scientists part of the police department? • Varies by County and State (some lab are independent labs some are part of the police department) • • Lab must be accredited to hold up in court •

  8. Crime Labs

  9. Four Major Federal Crime Laboratories ATF - Bureau of Alcohol Tabaco and Firearms -analyzes alcoholic beverages, weapons, explosives USPIS -U.S. Postal Inspection Service - crimes involving the postal service FBI -Federal Bureau of Investigation - largest crime lab in the world DEA - Drug Enforcement Administration - analyzes drugs seized

  10. Draw a Criminal • Take 5 minutes to draw what you think a criminal looks like (don’t just draw a stick figure) • Take a moment to examine your drawing. Give a written explanation of why your drawing represents a criminal.

  11. Observation Skills • Objective: Determine the reliability of eyewitness accounts • Do Now: What are some problems with eyewitness testimonies?

  12. How are observations made? • We Use Our senses • Sight • Taste • Hearing • Smell • Touch • These observations can be flawed

  13. How information is processed by the brain:

  14. Are eyewitness testimonies reliable? • Lets test your observation skills: • Watch this Short video (25 sec) with 6 students and 2 basketballs (3 in black and 3 in white)                        • Your task is to count the # of passes between players in white (do not say anything until I ask) •

  15. Inattentional Blindness • The Monkey Business Illusion: • Now that you KNOW about the surprise, watch the 2nd video and count the number of passes between the players in white as directed .  How many times did the players in white pass the ball?  •

  16. When you watched the video the second time, what did you miss? • 
 How reliable is the following question: Did you notice anything on the night of September 5th? • Given this, how likely is a witness to observe numerous details of a particular crime?

  17. Change Blindness • • Given the close proximity of the gentleman in white hair to the experimenter, what does this say about the reliability of eyewitnesses identifying criminals?

  18. Gradual Change • • Given this blindness, how reliable would the following question be: "Did you notice anything unusual while the suspect was in the shop?"

  19. Conclusion • Given the unreliable nature of eyewitness testimony, summarize the importance of forensic evidence in criminal proceedings in your notebooks.

  20. Eyewitness Identification • Objective: determine if you would be a good eyewitness. • DO NOW: In your notebooks briefly write down what characteristics are most important in making an eyewitness ID.

  21. Class Discussion: • Compare you suspect ID’s (similarities and differences) • What did you find difficult about making an eyewitness account? • Do you feel confident in your identification?

  22. Sketch artist of eyewitness account

  23. Digital Sketch •

  24. The police Lineup • Based on the unreliability police are hesitant to perform a lineup. • Lets see how good you are

  25. Observation of a crime •

  26. The Line Up (Can you identify the bomber on the roof?) •

  27. Who is the bomber Suspect? • 1 • 2 • 3 • 4 • 5 • 6

  28. Objective: Determine if an eyewitness testimony can lead to a wrongful conviction. • DO NOW: Would you feel confident convicting someone based upon your eyewitness identification?


  30. The Innocence Project: Kenny Walters • • Read the case summary on Kenny Walters exoneration by the innocence project and attached letter from his sister Anne Walters. • CONCLUSION: in your notebook briefly explain whether you think Kenny Walters would be convicted today. Be sure to explain why or why not.

  31. Deductive Reasoning • Objective: Use evidence to draw conclusions • Do Now: What do you think happened at this crime scene?

  32. The deadly picnic lab • Use your deductive reasoning skills to solve the case of the deadly picnic.

  33. Objective: observe how forensic scientists collect evidence and how it is used to solve a crime. • DO NOW: In your notebooks, briefly explain why a Crime scene investigator (CSI) needs to be objective when collecting evidence?

  34. Crime 360 episode •

  35. Analysis Questions • Who is called to the crime scene? • What are the duties of the CSI’s at the crime scene? • What types of evidence do they collect from the crime scene? • Who are the suspects? • What happens at the end of the case?

  36. Case Study: Casey Anthony • Objective: review the evidence presented at the Casey Anthony trial. • DO NOW: What do you know about the Casey Anthony trial?

  37. Read the case study and complete the worksheet and reflection sheet. • Be prepared to report out in class.

  38. The 4th amendment • Objective: what is the 4th amendment • DO NOW: what important document is the 4th amendment part of?

  39. The 4th Amendment • is an amendment to the United States Constitution and part of the Bill of Rights. • It prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures and requires any warrant to be judicially sanctioned and supported by probable cause.


  41. Legal Warrantless Searches •   Searches after an arrest •  Consent searches •   Plain view •   Stop and frisk •   Hot pursuit •   Automobile •   Inventory •   Border and airport searches •  Exigent circumstances

  42. Exceptions to the warrant requirement • Read the six major exceptions to the warrant requirement and complete the examples.

  43. Examples Explained: • Example 1: The heroin is admissible evidence for which no warrant was required as the glove compartment is certainly within John’s wingspan. The gun found in the trunk, however, was not within his wingspan, and was the result of an unreasonable search. This evidence will be excluded.

  44. Example 2 • According the the plain view exception the guns are admissible in court since they were responding to possible crime and the guns were in plain sight.

  45. Example 3 • Because Timmy, being a small child, was not legally able or authorized to give consent, the entry was illegal and the evidence will be excluded.

  46. Example 4 • Despite the fact that Officer Harker’s “spidey-sense” proved accurate once again, the evidence will be excluded as he cannot articulate any reason why he stopped Ivan, other than his unusually active neck hairs.