Forensic Fun!

The Importance of Forensics and It's Role in Solving Crimes

Introduction

Forensic Science is the application of science to law. Forensic science's scope covers the crime scene, identification of criminals, and the collection and identification of evidence.

Crime laboratories are places where forensic scientists analyze data collected at the scene and make conclusions about the evidence for who committed a crime. Laboratories contain special testing equipment, and everything must follow as strict procedure to ensure that tests are accurate.

The function of the Forensic Scientist is to collect and analyze evidence to guide the investigation and provide proof to support the case.

Forensic Databases exist to assist forensic scientists search and match evidence to a suspect. IBIS (Integrated Ballistic Identification System) and CODIS (Combined DNA Index System) are two examples of systems that store tons of data so that forensic scientists can match evidence to the criminal.

Crime Scene and Physical Evidence

Common types of physical evidence include fingerprints, tool marks, fibers, firearms, weapons, drugs, and bodily fluids.

The examination of physical evidence must follow very specific procedures. The evidence must remain in an uncontaminated state, and must be stored properly. It must be tested systematically and thoroughly, by a certified forensic scientist. Evidence can be significant in a trial to prove a suspect's innocence or guiltiness, because some forms of evidence like DNA are irrefutable.

Preserving and recording a crime scene must be done in a thorough, systematic way. The crime scene must be in an unaltered condition before being photographed. Evidence must be stored in separate containers so that it is not cross-contaminated, and the forensic scientist must make sure to wear protective materials at all times.

The Role of the FBI and CSI

The FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) and CSI (Crime Scene Investigation) are crucial for the collection and investigation of crimes. The FBI upholds and enforces the criminal laws of the United States, provides criminal justice services, and protects and defends the common man against criminal threats. CSI allows for the investigation and collection of evidence for crime cases.
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Careers in Forensic Science

The most common disciplines in Forensic Science are Forensic Biology, DNA, Toxicology, Fingerprinting, Anthropometry, Ballistics, and Forensic Engineering.

Toxicology identifies drug substances in the crime scene.

Forensic Biology is the analysis of bodily fluids to help solve a crime.

DNA tries to match suspect DNA to the crime evidence to link a person to a crime.

Fingerprinting uses fingerprints from the crime scene to link people to the crime.

Anthropometry measures the human body to identify victims or suspects to link them to a crime. Ballistics is the study for firearms and their unique identifiers to help solve a crime. Forensic Engineering is the investigation of machinery or other equipment involved in a crime.

REAL vs. FAKE / Television Forensics!

CSI portrays forensic science totally different than it actually is. For example, on CSI shows, the investigators often get test results back very quickly. In real life, DNA or other toxicology tests can take days, weeks, or even months to have a conclusive result. The real life forensic investigation process is long and tedious.

CSI shows also portray crimes as a puzzle that easily comes together. Real life crimes often have many different aspects that involve tons of investigation and isn't simple. On tv, certain evidence coincidentally appears that offers a lead to solve the crime, but in real life evidence is difficult to analyze and almost nothing provides clear evidence right at first. CSI shows glamorize crime scene investigation.

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Fun Facts

  • To date, DNA testing has exonerated more than 242 wrongfully-convicted individuals.
  • One of the first accounts of forensic science being used to solve a crime occurred in 44 B.C., when Julius Caesar was stabbed to death by Roman senators.
  • Crime scene investigators averaged $24.19 per hour or $50,310 per year as of May 2011, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • The term “forensic” is derived from the Latin word “forensis,” which comes from the word “forum.”
  • The polygraph measures the physiological arousal that occurs when people lie.
  • Eyewitness testimony is actually often unreliable
  • Gender can be determined from the bone structure of a criminal.
  • Victims of fires and explosions are most commonly identified by their dental records. Teeth are very useful in victim identification because they decay much more slowly than bones.