What is a forensic investigation?
Forensics are the scientific methods used to solve a crime. Forensic investigation is the gathering and analysis of all crime-related physical evidence in order to come to a conclusion about a suspect. Investigators will look at blood, fluid, or fingerprints, residue, hard drives, computers, or other technology to establish how a crime took place. This is a general definition, though, since there are a number of different types of forensics.
Forensic science is the application of science to criminal and civil laws, mainly—on the criminal side—during criminal investigation, as governed by the legal standards of admissible evidence and criminal procedure.
Forensic scientists collect, preserve, and analyze scientific evidence during the course of an investigation. While some forensic 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 be forensic, certain sections have developed over time to encompass the majority of forensically related cases.
Forensic science is the combination of two different Latin words: forensic and science. The former, forensic, relates to a discussion or examination performed in public. Because trials in the ancient world were typically held in public, it carries a strong judicial connotation. The second is science, which is derived from the Latin word for knowledge and is today closely tied to the scientific method, a systematic way of acquiring knowledge. Taken together, then, forensic science can be seen as the use of the scientific methods and processes in crime solving.
I need a forensic investigator?
Yes. There are a few situations for which hiring a private investigator would be wise:
If you have been accused of a crime: The most efficient way to clear your name is to allow a professional, unbiased source gather evidence.
If you have been the victim of a crime: Evidence found by an investigator is reliable and will stand up in court.
If your spouse is cheating on you: An infidelity investigator can prove your spouse’s actions via email, voicemails, and other surveillance, in order to get you the compensation you need.
If you are a business owner: Companies and employers often use corporate investigations because they can uncover sexual harassment issues, lawsuits from disgruntled employees, internet abuse, stolen customer information, or intellectual property issues.
While it is true that almost all police forces have a forensic team on staff, these investigators often handle multiple cases at once. Not only will hiring your own investigator ensure that your case is at the forefront, but they can continue their investigation for as long as you need.
What is forensic evidence?
- Genetic material (blood, hair, skin)
- Trace chemicals
- Dental history
- Witness testimonies
- Bullets or other potential weapons (ballistics)
- Shoe and tire marks
- Illicit substances
- Documents, files, and records (hospital records, tax forms, job history, etc.)
- Computers and phones
- Videos or photographs
Direct vs circumstantial evidence: Direct evidence establishes a fact and includes eyewitness testimonies and/or confessions. Circumstantial requires inference on behalf of the judge or jury. Fingerprints or hair fibers suggest someone was at the scene of the crime.
Physical vs biological evidence: Physical evidence is nonliving, inorganic material like fingerprints, glass, or bullets. Biological evidence is organic material like DNA, wood, or plants.
Reconstructive Evidence: This includes any evidence that allows police to better understand how the crime took place.
Associative evidence: Any evidence that links a suspect to a scene at a given time.
Testimonial evidence: What is said in court by a competent witness.