Forensic Science, also known as Forensics, is the application of
science to law. It uses highly developed technology to uncover scientific
evidence in a variety of fields. Modern forensic science has a broad range of
applications. It is used in civil cases such as forgeries, fraud or negligence.
The most common use of forensic science is to investigate criminal cases
involving a victim, such as assault, robbery, kidnapping , rape, or murder.
Forensic science is also used in monitoring the compliance of various
countries with such international agreements as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation
Treaty and the Chemical Weapons Convention and to learn whether a country
is developing a secret nuclear weapons program. It can help law enforcement
officials determine whether any laws or regulations have been violated in the
marketing of foods and drinks, the manufacture of medicines, or the use of
pesticides on crops. It can also determine whether drinking water meets legal
The medical examiner is the most important individual in an
investigation of a crime involving a victim. It is the responsibility of the
medical examiner to visit the crime scene, conduct an autopsy (examination
of the body) in cases of death, examine the medical evidence and lab reports,
study the victims history, and put all the information together in a report to be
turned in to the district attorney.
Medical examiners are usually physicians specializing in forensic
pathology, the study of structural and functional changes in the body as a
result of injury. Their training and qualifications most often include a medical
degree and an apprenticeship in a medical examiners office.
In the field of forensic science, there are many subspecialties. They
include odontology (the study of teeth), anthropology(the study of human
beings), psychiatry, biology, chemistry, physics, toxicology (the study of
poisons), and pathology (the examination of body tissues and fluids). The
medical examiner may call upon forensic scientists who are specialized in
these fields for help in a crime investigation.
Toxicology is a branch of forensic science that deals with the adverse
effects of drugs and poisonous chemicals found in the home, at work or in the
environment. All drugs have toxic effect but the effect is most often minor.
The toxic effect of drugs may produce only a little discomfort or they may be
serious enough to cause death. One of the most common cases of death by
poison is arsenic poison.
Pathology is the branch of forensic science that determines the nature
and course of diseases by analyzing body fluids and tissues. Pathology is
divided into clinical and anatomic pathology. Clinical pathologists contribute
to the diagnosis of diseases by measuring chemicals and cells in blood,
sputum, bone marrow and urine. Anatomic pathologists perform autopsies
and analyze tissues taken from patients during surgery or by biopsy.