All about Forensic Science

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Forensic science, also known as criminalistics, also known as the application of science to criminal and civil laws, mainly on the criminal side during criminal investigation, by the legal standards of admissible evidence and criminal procedure.

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Forensic science collect, preserve, and analyze scientific evidence during the course of an investigation. While some scientists travel to the scene of the crime to collect the evidence themselves, others occupy a laboratory role, performing analysis on objects brought to them by other individuals.

In addition to their laboratory role, forensic scientists testify as expert witnesses in both criminal and civil cases and can work for either the prosecution or the defense. While any field could technically contain certain sections that have been developed over time to encompass the majority of forensically related cases.

Forensic science is a combination of two Latin words: Forensic and Science. The basic, forensic, relates to a discussion or examination performed in public, while trials in the ancient world were typically held in public, it carries a strong judicial connotation. The second is science, which was derived from the Latin word for ?Knowledge? and is today closley tied to the scientific method, a systematic way of knowledge. Put together, forensic science can be seen as the use of the scientific methods and processes in crime solving.


The word forensic comes from the Latin term ? before the forum?. The history of the term comes from roman times, which is a criminal charge meant presenting the case before a group of public individuals in the forum. Both the person accused of the crime and the accuser would give speeches based on their sides of the story. The case would be decided in favor of the individuals with the best argument and delivery. This is the source of the two modern usages of the word forensic and as a category of public presentations.

In modern use, the term of forensics where the place of forensic science can be considered incorrect, as the term forensic is effectively a synonym for legal or related to courts. However, the term is now so closely associated with the scientific field that many dictionaries include the meaning the equates the word forensic with forensic science.


The ancient world lacked standerlized forensic practices, which enabled criminals to escape punishment . Criminal Investigations and trials relied heavily on forced confessions and witness testimony. However, ancient sources contain several accounts of techniques that foreshadow concepts in forensic science developed centuries later.

The first written account of using medicine and entomology to solve crime cases is attributed to the book of Xi Yuan Lu, written in china in 1248 by Song Ci, a director of justice, jail and supervisor, during the Song dynasty.

Song Ci introduced regulations concerning autopsy reports to court, how to protect the evidence in the examining process, and explained why forensic workers must demonstrate impartiality to the public. He devised methods for making antiseptic and for promoting the reappearance of hidden injuries to dead bodies and bones; for calculating the time of death; described how to wash and examine the dead body to ascertain the reason for death. At that time the book had described methods for distinguishing between suicide and faked suicide.

In one of Song Ci?s accounts, the case of a person murdered with a sickle was solved by an investigator who instructed each suspect to bring his sickle to one location. Flies, attracted by the smell of the blood, eventually gathered on a single sickle. In light of this, the owner of that sickle confessed to the muder. As other examples, the book also described how to distinguish between a drowning and stangulation, and describe evidence from examining corpses to determine if a death was cause by murder, suicide or accident.

Methods from around the world involved saliva and examination of the mouth and tongue to determine innocence or guilt, as a precursor to the Polygraph test. In ancient india, some suspects were made to fill their mouths with dried rice and spit it back out. Similarly, in ancient China, those accused of a crime would have rice powder placed in their mouths, In ancient middle-eastern cultures, the accused were made to lick hot metal rods briefly. It is throughout that these test had some validity since a guilty person would produce less saliva and thus have a drier mouth; the accused would be considered guilty if rice was sticking to their mouth in abundance or if their tongues were severely burned due to lack of shielding from saliva.

Development of forensic science

In the 16-century Europe medical practitioners in army and university settings began to gather information on the cause and manner of death. Ambrosie Pare, a French army surgeon, systematically studied the effects of violent death on internal organs. Two Italian surgeons, Fortunato Fidelis and Paolo Zacchia, laid the foundation of modern pathology by studying changes that occurred in the structure of the body as the result of disease. In the late 18th century, writings on these topics began to appear. These include A Treatise on Forensic Medicine and Public Health by the French physician Francois Immanuele Fodere and the Complete System of Police Medicine by the German Medical by the German medical expert Johann Peter Frank.

As the rational values of the Enlightment era increasingly permeated society in the 18th century, Criminal investigation became a more evidence-based, rational procedure- the use of torture to force confessions was curtailed, and belief in witchcraft and other powers of the occult largely ceased to influence the courts decisions. Two examples of English forensic science in individual legal proceedings demonstrating the increasing use of logic and procedure in criminal investigation at the time. In 1784, in Lancaster, John Toms was convicted for murdering Edward Culshaw with a pistol. When the dead body of Culshaw was examined, a bullet wound was found in his head and it matched perfectly to a pistol, leading to conviction.

In Warwick 1816, A farmer was tried and convicted of the murder of a maidservant. She had been drowned in a shallow pool and bore the marks of violent assault. The police had found footprints and an impression of cloth with a sewn patch near the pool, there was also scattered grains of wheat . The breaches of a farmer who had been growing wheat nearby was investigated and correspond exactly to the impression in the earth near the pool. There were so many crime scenes that never added up, almost where someone tried to cover it up, but so much for CSI they knew just what to do.           

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All About Forensic Science. (2021, Apr 01). Retrieved February 7, 2023 , from

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