What is Forensic Science ?
In a nutshell, forensic science is any science that can be used for investigative purposes so as to provide unbiased scientific evidence that can be used in a court of law. The evidence gathered by this science is above all impartial and can swing either way. This means that, depending on the outcome of the investigation, the evidence gathered can be used for prosecutorial purposes or for the acquittal of a suspect. At the end of the day what really matters is that justice prevails.
It is a multidisciplinary science- which means that it draws from more than one source. Chemistry, Biology, Physics and the works are all part of this science.
In a typical crime scene, crime scene investigators work by gathering what is, at the time, suspected to be material evidence from the victim or a suspected assailant to assist them in getting to the bottom of the truth. Once the evidence has been processed and analysis completed, senior forensic scientists are usually called upon to testify as impartial expert witnesses. Examples of forensic science in action include the use of gas chromatography to identify drug substances, DNA profiling a blood stain obtained from a crime sceneto track down a murder suspect and using a laser such as the Raman spectroscopy to identify fragments of microscopic paint on a garment or a set of tools found at the crime scene.
Just like the examples, there are also multiple disciplines associated with forensics. Take for instance forensic toxicology which is commonly referred to as the science that specializes in the study of chemicals on organisms. Hypothetically speaking, should poisonous elements be suspected at a crime scene, these scientists obtain a blood sample from the victim and other body fluids, treat the samples, extract the poison and purify it. Once this is done it is easier to determine the agent that was used and, in conjunction with other collaborating evidence, this can lead to the tracking of the perpetrators of the crime scene.
Forensic psychology is another good example. The only major difference between this discipline and the rest of them is that there is no tangible evidence that can be presented for examination. Everything is psychological. Forensic psychologists work by understanding how criminals think and react in particular situations. This has led to thousands of lives being saved especially in hostage situations where a negotiator, who is a type of forensic scientist, is brought in to reason and come to terms with the kidnappers. One important aspect of this field is the ability to testify in a court of law. In order for any forensic psychologist to be regarded as a credible witness, he must understand the rules of philosophy and the standards that apply to that particular judicial system. He must also exempt any hearsay evidence from his testimony. Failure to adhere to this will lead to the nullification of his statements.
Cyber forensics is perhaps the most recent and upcoming field of them all. With cyber attacks, which create another form of a crime scene, on the rise and people constantly filing complaints of credit card fraud, it is no wonder that it was formed. In a statement, it is the application of computer knowledge to aid the legal process. It should be noted that while computer science is attributed as a factor in solving a crime scene, it is the skill for solving puzzles that most investigators posses that lead to the solving of these cases. Unlike other disciplines, these investigators require special expertise and tools that are uncommon for normal investigations. Computer forensics experts mostly investigate computer systems and data storage devices after which they render an opinion based on the examination that they conducted. All investigations are carried out in a manner that is accepted by the courts to ensure that any evidence obtained is viable and can be used for prosecution or acquittal. In this case Cyber forensics is described as being techno-legal in nature rather than being purely legal or purely technical.
There are many more forensic science specialties that help solve a crime scene, but these are the main sciences involved and possibly the highest increasing “new” sciences that are helping to solve a crime scene on a daily basis.