Forensic science has seen evolutionary growth in last 100 years, becoming the backbone of criminal investigation and law enforcement agencies. Although, in broad term, the term simply denotes an open and broad analysis of a case, in all practicality it has come to stand for application of latest scientific methods of logical research, investigation, and analysis of physical, material, and human evidences, using the cutting edge technologies and tools available for the day (APA, 2002).
Today these tools range from DNA sampling to computer based behavioral analysis and profile generation, and creation of complex algorithm to reach to the correct conclusion in any criminal or civil case. Importance of Forensic Science Application of logic, mathematics, and science to solve complex problem is by no means a new development in criminal investigation or judicial process. In fact, Archimedes’ discovery of relationship between volume and density more than 2 thousand years before can constitute one of the prime examples of ancient forensic science (Meloy, 1998).
However, as the 20th century marks the maximum number of inventions and discoveries, or their complete culmination, forensic science has also expanded to its greatest reach and depth. With every possible technological help and assistance, in fields of analytic mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, medicine, and psychology, forensic science could help crime investigators and detectives in unearthing crimes, comprehending most complex and apparently invisible evidences and even constructing the entire crime scene from scratch in the absence of any evidence (Appelbaum, and Grisso,, 1988).
To further aid the matter, over last half century, forensic science has increasingly involved behavioral and criminal psychology as part of its main investigative arsenal. As many forensic experts maintain, it may not be possible to create completely foolproof case against a suspect based on the material evidences alone, and until the suspect denies the crime, there is always a chance, howsoever, slim, that forensic results may be erroneous.
However, once the preliminary forensic studies identifies the closest suspects, the behavioral and psychological arm of forensic science takes over. Through sustained research and over a period of years, a number of psychometric tests have been perfected, which can determine whether the suspects are stating truth or lying. The behavioral psychologists have used these results to great effect in getting many hardened criminals to confess their crimes (Frederick, 2000).
The assistance provided by forensic science in obtaining conclusive solution in numerous cases involving theft, embezzlement, fraud, abduction, issues of heritage and parentage and murder, has been immensely useful for law officers in reaching quick, and, more importantly correct conclusions. The precision science and the detailed, months long research, counter research, weighing of evidence and extracting every possible information from such minutest of evidence as hair, finger nail, and scratch mark leaves little room for doubts, suspicion, or skepticism on the final conclusion (Larrabee, 2005).
Forensic science has greatly helped in identifying often indistinguishable pieces of evidences, which has very useful for police and investigation agencies in cases of major accidents, fires, and crashes. Using the assistive technology of DNA mapping, forensic experts can identify the deceased from available samples that range from hair, skin portions, and teeth. These solutions are extremely useful in settling insurance and financial claims by relatives of the victims. Portrayal in Media
Media stand has been somewhat ambiguous on the issue of forensic science’s credibility and strengths, as seen in many cases. While it is beyond doubt that forensic science has been completely accepted as a normative part of the criminal investigation, and its mere absence or delay in the preliminary phase of investigation raises questions and voices in media, the same media has also seldom deterred from exposing all the possible loopholes, or even in their absence, creating some of them at times.
Examples of this tendency are seen copiously in several notorious cases, especially those involving O. J. Simpson and Jon Ramsey, where media even jumped the Forensic reports, questioning, supporting, contradicting , and nullifying all the forensic results, in its overzealousness (Grisso, 1986) However, from a vantage point of view, it is safe to state that media greatly respects and venerates the judgment of forensic experts. The credibility assumed by these experts is perhaps higher due to general skepticism involved with crude and forceful methods employed by police force.
In any case, where police opinion and interpretation of events sits in conflict with judgment and analysis of forensic experts, media swings in favor of the latter, lending further credence and weight to their opinion, at least in the public opinion. Reference American Psychiatric Association. (2005). The principles of medical ethics with annotation especially applicable to psychiatry. Appelbaum, P. S. , & Grisso, T. (1988). Assessing patients’ capacities to consent to treatment. New England Journal of Medicine Frederick, R. I. (2000).
Mixed group validation: A method to address the limitations of criterion group validation in research on malingering detection. Behavioral Sciences and the Law Grisso, T. (1986). Evaluating competencies: Forensic assessments and instruments. New York: Plenum Press. Heilbrun , K. and DeMatteo, D. 2002. Forensic Mental Health Assessment: A Casebook. Oxford University Press, 2002. Larrabee, G. J. 2005. Forensic Neuropsychology: A Scientific Approach Glenn J. ; Oxford University Press. Meloy, J. R. (Ed. ). (1998). The psychology of stalking: Clinical and forensic perspectives. San Diego: Academic Press