Forensic Sciences & Forensics: Science in Law

In Forensic Science

What is Forensic Science?

Forensic science is the use of science in the service of the law.  Sciences used in forensics include any discipline that can aid in the collection, preservation and analysis of evidence such as chemistry (for the identification of explosives), engineering (for examination of structural design) or biology (for DNA identification or matching). A forensic scientist is expert in any technical field and can provide an analysis of the evidence, witness testimony on examination results, technical support and even training in his or her specialized area.

Why is Forensic Science important?

Analysis of forensic evidence is used in the investigation and prosecution of civil and criminal proceedings.  Often, it can help to establish the guilt or innocence of possible suspects.

Forensic evidence is also used to link crimes that are thought to be related to one another.  For example, DNA evidence can link one offender to several different crimes or crime scenes (or exonerate the accused).  Linking crimes helps law enforcement authorities to narrow the range of possible suspects and to establish patterns of for crimes, which are useful in identifying and prosecuting suspects.

Forensic scientists also work on developing new techniques and procedures for the collection and analysis of evidence. In this manner, new technology can be used and refined not only to keep forensic scientist on the cutting edge of science, but to maintain the highest standards of quality and accuracy.

Who provides forensic analysis?

Forensic analysis is usually carried out by experts working individually or in teams. Advanced techniques often require laboratories where the investigative conditions can be carefully controlled and monitored. Private laboratories and government agencies support small and large forensic labs.  One of the largest and best-known is that of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The FBI lab performs all examinations on evidence from crimes being investigated by the their field offices.  Additionally, the lab accepts violent crime evidence from state and local law enforcement agencies that don’t have access to a forensic lab of their own, provided that the evidence has not been previously examined.

This is part of a collection of posts on this subject:

  1. Forensic Sciences & Forensics: Science in Law
  2. Aural Identification of Familiar Voices
  3. Aural Identification of Unfamiliar Voices
  4. Spectrographic Comparisons
  5. Summary & Conclusion