Forensic Science for Prosecutors and Attorneys

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Introduction

Forensic science entails the use of scientific techniques to collect and examine evidence from a crime or suspected crime scene. The collected evidence is examined and presented in a court of law. Criminalists are individuals who use their knowledge to evaluate evidence from a crime scene. Law courts have recently grown reliant on forensic findings as they often provide accuracy and reliability. Forensic evidence helps the investigating team to positively identify the suspect and prosecute him or her.

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The evidence could be in form of fingerprints, hair, guns, knives, bullets, fibers, footprints, or even bodily fluids that link a suspect to a crime scene. Thus, compared to traditional investigative methods, forensic science is more essential in court proceedings.

Use of Forensic Investigative Techniques by Prosecutors and Defense Attorneys

Forensic science is critical in investigations as it allows the authorities to identify the crime suspect positively and find out exactly how the situation happened. According to Fakiha (2019), forensic investigative techniques are used in law to match crime DNA to an individual, learn the composition of an unknown drug, and discover patterns of blood spatter. The use of forensic evidence makes the crime trial personnel feel confident about the decisions made. Indeed, the results of the tests are used in court to support trial cases.

Trial lawyers use forensic techniques to collect evidence with which they prove or disprove trial evidence in trials. For example, when there are known witnesses to a crime, the criminalists collect DNA evidence from the scene and match it with those of the witnesses to find the suspect (Shen & Vieira, 2016). Furthermore, the use of such tactics and theories helps prosecutors and defense attorneys to know the exact time the crime happened (Bangerter Law, 2021).

In less complex incidences, the forensic expert can tell the real-time, hour, and minute the crime happened based on collected evidence. In courts, trial lawyers use collected evidence to eliminate suspected people from the trials and apprehend the criminals (Forensics Colleges, 2021). In the case of the body remains, the collected evidence helps to narrow down to the possible identity of the body remains and suspects involved in the murder.

Comparing Forensic Science to Traditional Methods of Investigation

Traditional forensic methods relied on physical observation, expert analysis, and the use of instincts. The forensic experts would greatly rely on their instincts to make a major conclusion about collected pieces of evidence. Traditional methods included serology, chromatography, hair and fiber analysis, pathology, toxicology, and behavior tests related to crime, such as psychological exams and polygraphs (Morgan, 2019). However, these methods provided questionable evidence because the conclusions would be reached through personal intuitions. Thus, there was a need to develop more reliable forensic methods hence the development of forensic science.

The application of science in analyzing evidence made it more accurate and reliable. Consequently, the vast majority of traditional methods grew out of laboratories. The scientific methods were then applied by universities and later criminal justice systems. The court system also discovered that evidence attained by scientific forensics was irrefutable compared to the traditional methods of evidence which would be subjected to scrutiny.

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Forensic science uses advanced technological devices to examine evidence and draw conclusions (Morgan, 2019). DNA profiling as one method of forensic science has proven to be more reliable as it narrows down from thousands of suspects to one suspect. Other methods of forensic analysis include fingerprint matching, pathology analysis, ballistic analysis, hair and fiber analysis, and chemical analysis. However, unlike traditional methods, today’s forensic analysis applies reliable technology.

Courts and Juries Trust for Forensic Evidence

Courts and juries now place more trust in forensic evidence than other sources of information. Court systems have discovered that while testimonies from both sides of a trial could be subjective, forensic evidence is objective. The collected evidence reveals occurrences as they happened without taking sides (Forensic Science Online, 2018). Indeed, in the case where there is testimony and forensic evidence, the court is seeking to side with the evidence.

The judges and juries prefer forensic evidence because some cases would only be solved fairly using such shreds of evidence (National Institute of Standards and Technology, n.d). For example, in the case of a rape incident, the jury would demand DNA evidence from the rape victim to find the suspect, and prove or disprove the accused. Unlike testimonials, forensic evidence is compelling, non-bias, and accurate thus the trial system prefers the evidence to testimonies.

Juries’ Trust and Emphasis on Forensic Science

Juries need to trust and put more emphasis on forensic science because it uses reliable technology. Saferstein and Roy (2020) provide that juries now trust scientific evidence more than any other form of evidence to make a verdict. This team of evidence evaluators often requires more evidence to make a judgment from a wider perspective. Furthermore, they require more objective evidence than subjective, which is provided by forensic science.

Traditional forensic methods have been proven wrong from time to time compared to scientific methods. Indeed, past cases which had been concluded with traditional methods are now allowed for revisited using scientific methods (Peterson et al., 2010). Many cases which have been revisited and their evidence analyzed using forensic science have had their verdict changed. They prove that the convicted was wrongly accused or provide additional evidence against the individual.

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The case of the Illinois man is a good example of why a jury should trust and insist on forensic evidence. According to Moreno (2019), Patrick Pursley was accused of shooting a 22-year-old man back in 1993. Illinois is one of the states allowing post-convicted cases retrial and retesting of evidence using the new technology. Therefore, the ballistics used to convict Pursley were retested using the Integrated Ballistic Identification System (IBIS) and the analysis was different from earlier (Moreno, 2019).

The aftermath results showed that the ballistics parts and scratches obtained from the crime scene did not match the gun used to convict the victim. The ruling judge had, therefore, no other option but to release Pursley as he was proven innocent. Mr. Pursley’s case is one of the many that have not been tried using the new investigative technology. Therefore, the juries have the mandate to rely on scientific evidence than opinions and evidence collected using intuitions and physical examination.

Conclusion

Forensic science has significantly impacted the justice system in the United States. Today, the court system relies on scientific evidence more than biased testimonies as it has proven more objective and reliable. Trial lawyers also trust forensic evidence in making points in courtrooms.

Indeed, the court of law also emphasizes current forensic science-based evidence compared to traditional methods of doing forensics. Scientific methods such as DNA profiling, matching fingerprints, and chemical analysis have proven more reliable as they use advanced technology. Therefore, forensic science is more accurate and reliable than traditional forensic methods.

References

Bangerter Law. (2021). The importance of forensic evidence in court. Web.

Fakiha, B. (2019). Technology in forensic science. The Open Access Journal of Science and Technology, 7(1), 1-10. Web.

Forensics Colleges (2021). What is criminalistics? Why study it? Web.

Forensic Science Online. (2018). 25 surprising facts about forensic science. Web.

National Institute of Standards and Technology. (n.d). Forensic Science. Web.

Moreno, I. (2019). Ballistics tests prove Illinois man innocent in a murder case. AP NEWS. Web.

Morgan, R. R. (2019). Why forensic science is in crisis and how we can fix it. World Economic Forum. Web.

Peterson, J., Sommers, I., Baskin, D., & Johnson, D. (2010). “The role and impact of forensic evidence in the criminal justice process.” Web.

Saferstein, R., & Roy, T. (2020). Criminalistics: An introduction to forensic science (13th ed.). Pearson

Shen, M., & Vieira, D. N. (2016). Forensic science: Defending justice. Forensic Sciences Research, 1(1), 1-2. Web.

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