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Forensics, The Basics Of An Evolving Discipline

Feb 27, 2008
Forensic science is all around us. More than likely you know someone who might have broken a law and ended up in jail. Every single person that goes into a jail is finger printed, and has their fingerprints stored in a database for future reference. Finger printing was one of the first forensic tools to be used. The first account of finger printing dates back to 17th century when a debtor's fingerprint was affixed to a bill to verify the debt was genuine.

Moving forward, if it was a serious crime that a person was jailed for they might have had their car impounded by the police or had other property collected as part of an evidence collecting procedure. This evidence is usually taken to a special department of a city police force or given to a lab in more rural areas. These departments and labs have special equipment to detect whether there is hair from a victim on a piece of fabric or whether blood was on pieces of evidence. Many of these tests are very easy to perform and the evidence is considered admissible during a court case.

Probably the single most important test in forensic science is DNA testing. DNA testing allows for many answers to be confidently established. DNA can determine whether a victim was raped, whether a person is really the father of a child and whether the killer took a drink in the victim's house. DNA testing in forensic labs is much faster than normal commercial tests as the results are needed as fast as possible.

The past three paragraphs were about the branch of forensic science known as Criminalistics, a science that usually involves investigating rape, murder, assault or some other crimes. Criminalistics is not the only branch of forensic science, there are approximately 20 other disciplines that can be considered part of forensic science. Digital forensics is a new and growing field. As the digital world grows, digital crime is growing with it. Digital forensics has the duty to investigate pornography on computers, questionable emails and tracing where a computer is.

With more people doing dangerous things on the internet it is no surprise that digital forensics is growing so fast. MySpace pedophiles are getting more and more predominant and people need the tools to keep up with their kids as well as keep themselves safe on the internet. Digital forensics helps them do just that, as long as they contact the police of course.

Another commonly used forensic science is forensic toxicology. This forensic science allows police officials to know whether someone was poisoned or had a large amount of drugs or alcohol in their bodies. This is important if they think that someone may have been murdered by poison or they want to make sure a drug user is not on such a high level of drugs that it could kill them.

When you are brought into police custody the police may try to get a blood sample or swab for DNA, but now you know that you should never let them do that without first consulting a lawyer. Make sure to stay safe as forensic science keeps evolving everyday.
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