Forensic Studies

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David Collins Brigham Young University—Idaho


rime-time television is chock-full of drama centered on the criminal justice system. Programs such as CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Law & Order, Criminal Minds, and Cold Case carry the viewer through stimulating, yet nearly impossible-to-solve, investigations that culminate with the evidence revealing the entire untold story behind a crime in one hour or less. In real life the collection and analysis of evidence involves painstaking care and rigorous application of scientific principles. Have you ever wondered how evidence in an actual case tells the story, what information each item of evidence holds, and how this information can be elucidated in a crime laboratory? In this chapter we will explore the world of forensic chemistry, focusing on the theory and processes of forensic analysis and showing the role that chemistry plays in criminal investigations.

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Charles D. Winters

Forensic scientists play a key role in criminal investigations. Fingerprints collected from a suspect will be compared to fingerprints collected at the crime scene after being developed in the lab by a forensic scientist.

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1 Introduction to Forensic Science 2 Forensic Chemistry 3 Theory of Forensic Analysis 4 Fingerprint Development 5 Presumptive Drug Analysis 6 Soil Analysis 7 Thin Layer Chromatography and Ink Analysis 8 Conclusions

© 2007 Thomson Brooks/Cole, a part of the Thomson Corporation. Thomson, the Star logo, and Brooks/Cole are trademarks used herein under license. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No part of this work covered by the copyright hereon may be reproduced or used in any form or by any means — graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping, Web distribution or information storage and retrieval systems — without the written permission of the publisher. The Adaptable Courseware Program consists of products and additions to existing Brooks/Cole products that are produced from camera-ready copy. Peer review, class testing, and accuracy are primarily the responsibility of the author(s). Forensic Chemistry / Collins - First Edition ISBN 0-759-39085-1. Printed in the United States of America.

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Forensic Chemistry

By the end of this chapter, you should be able to answer some basic questions about forensic chemistry: • • • • • What is forensic science? How is chemistry used in forensic science? What determines the value of each item of evidence? Is the analysis process for each item of evidence the same? What type of information allows for an exclusive link?



Forensic science The application of science principles, techniques, and methods to the investigation of crime; the use of science to aid in the resolution of legal matters; scientific analysis for the purpose of judicial resolve. Forensic history The use of science to answer historical questions.


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Forensic science applies science principles, techniques, and methods to the investigation of crime. A lesser known definition of the adjective forensic is anything argumentative or debatable. At first, this definition of forensic may seem to have no connection with the more popular crime-solving definition—but it does. Legal truth is sought through the use of the adversarial system (rather than the scientific method), and decisions are made only after each side has been given an equal opportunity to argue all the issues at hand. When one of the issues being argued is a scientific analysis (using the scientific method) of an item of evidence, the debate that ensues over the science involved could be called forensic science. Other related definitions of forensic may include (1) the use of science to aid in the resolution of legal matters and (2) a scientific analysis for the purpose of...
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