What Is Forensic Science About?

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Forensic science is the use of science in matters of law. It can be used in both criminal and civil matters and can help resolve cases from the conclusions made by forensic scientists. In order to resolve legal matters, forensic scientists must examine available evidence, make conclusions and communicate to judges, juries and attorneys to explain their findings.

Significance

  • Forensic science is an invaluable tool for crime-solving. Through the use of forensic science, law enforcement officers can learn important details of a crime---such as information about criminals and victims.

Types

  • Forensic science is found in many disciplines, including engineering, anthropology, psychology, art, biology, chemistry and accounting.

Suspects

  • When a crime is committed, suspects are found because of the use of forensic science. Pieces of evidence collected at crime scenes and examined by forensic scientists, such as fingerprints and DNA, can reveal the identity of a suspect.

    When physical evidence cannot identify a suspect, psychological evidence sometimes does. Forensic psychologists may be brought into an investigation to create a profile of the suspect based on evidence found at a crime scene. Information in a profile can include the suspect's family history, marital status, career, age and personal habits. Through a profile, investigators can be pointed in the right direction when searching for a suspect.

Victims

  • When a victim cannot be identified, forensic science can help to determine the person's identity. For example, forensic dentists can study available dental records in order to make an identification. Also, if only a skeleton is found, forensic anthropologists study the bones to reveal vital clues about the deceased's identity---including gender or race. This information can help generate leads from the public or be compared to missing persons cases under investigation by the police.

Civil Matters

  • Forensic science is also a tool used in civil cases. Forensic engineers may offer opinions in cases involving copyright infringement or personal injury claims, forensic psychologists may evaluate people in cases involving child custody and forensic dentists may render opinions in worker's compensation or malpractice cases.

Ethics in Forensic Science

  • In order for forensic science to contribute to the justice system, it is imperative that forensic scientists maintain objectivity. Their job is to test evidence in a highly competent manner. In order to do this, forensic scientists should ensure that their tests are complete, their data is detailed and their findings are understandable to laypeople. The outcome of a case is not something a forensic scientist should be worried about.

References

  • Photo Credit Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Maarten Van Damme
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