The term forensic and criminalistics has for centuries been used interchangeably until recently that the AAFC (American academy for forensic sciences) made it a distinct discipline on its own but operates under the umbrella of forensic sciences. Criminalistics is defined as the scientific discipline and a profession that directs its efforts in recognizing, identifying, individualizing and evaluation of physical evidence through application of natural and physical sciences to the sciences of law. Major roles of this field of specialization are to apply objectively the scientific techniques in examination of physical evidence. The term physical evidence refers to any evidence too small that magnification is needed to see it. The range of materials that are used to challenge these evidence include hair, fiber, seminal fluid, blood and body stain fluids, drugs, alcohol, and other body related fluids together with identification firearms and related bullets, marking of tools and foot prints.
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Criminalistics makes the discipline of forensic science comprehensive to a wider range of readers with intention of specializing in forensic science profession. It is through the application of criminal investigation, clear explanation of techniques, use of modern crime laboratory technology and combining case stories that makes it possible to provide precise evidence in criminal cases (Tom, Gardner, 2008). Forensic science is the general discipline that is concerned with study of investigation in general; this includes criminalistics anthropology among others.
Presently, forensic evidence has fascinated the public so much that even the past laws were discarded to give room to new regulations that allow use and reliance of forensic evidence in law courts as source of evidence. It has now turned as a medium in which crimes especially murder cases has been resolved. However, we have to question the acceptability of these evidences being presented in court for determination of cases. For the jury to completely rely on the validity of evidence of forensic personnel we need to ask ourselves; has the crime scene been accurately inspected? Do the forensic investigators visit the scene of crime and try to zero down on the bad guy? Were DNA results delayed?
Most of the forensic evidences are admitted in crminal assessment with the aid of an expert who has all the required scientific qualifications and can explain to the jury all the methodologies used to arrive at the findings. He can often give opinion to the jury, and this turns to be very influential trial evidence and mostly carry greater weight in the juries’ opinion. For an expert to be allowed to testify they must meet some given conditions. They must be qualified on basis of education, training and experience (Kish Stuart, 2004). They must be in a position to express the methodology of evaluation used in their forensic evidence and prove that the scientific approach is reliable. Some of the forensic methodologies accepted by the forensic society are;
- DNA profiling- used to test the hereditary characteristics possessed by a person’s that are contained in the deoxyribonucleic acids. Mostly emphasized on the assault, homicide and sexual cases.
- Fingerprint identification- these are tests done on human fingers and foot soles to determine their identity
- Blood spatter analysis- specialize in identification of blood
- Eye witness identification- is a traditional method that relies on the evidence of those present at the time of crime.
- Handwriting analysis- identifies the possible person who may have possibly made some written statements or other writings. Apart from this the other four are generally accepted in court all over the world.
The police’s main objective in investigation is to identify the perpetrators of a criminal event. It calls for interrogation of witnesses found at the scene of crime. Since most committed crimes are by persons who know the victim well, it narrows down the level of suspicion on the potential perpetrators. And for one to be tied with a given crime you have to link him strongly with the crime scene evidence, it is thus a game of trial and error. At this point, forensic investigation steps in to remove the aspect of doubt and narrow down on the search of perpetrators.
In the present world, criminal trials have become scientific oriented and the core for substantial evidence is science based. Three factors have been coalesced to ensure scientific evidence is indomitable to court; the judges have been equipped with a culture that makes them ensure that science is the core test that sound evidence has to base on. The judges have been made aware of those defendants who have been previously suffered innocently and thus they have to rely on scientific evidence to convict the right person. The jury has been overwhelmed with the scientific discoveries that have provided proof formerly esoteric evidence provided by traditional methods. Forensic investigation has become one medium which murder mysteries are solved. Much of the scientific tests which have been presented in court as source of evidence is reliable to great extent than the traditional methods (Kipper, 2004). However, some evidence though scientific does prejudice the jury if left in the hands of a scrupulous persons.
As a result of evolving standards in science, and increased usefulness, the rules of evidence have as well been used in the courts for proper working of a judicial system. Some trials require systematic evidence which rely on sound scientific examinations.
For instance, the fingerprint sourced from a scene of crime is quite useful in identifying a specific suspect. A fingerprint is a small impression left by the friction caused by human finger. No two persons have the same finger patterns even if related. The palm and the foot sole have connected epidermal ridges and poles which offer an infallible personal identification of criminals who have failed to admit previous arrests (Holmes, 1993).
Forensic analysis for DNA has replaced the conventional genetic systems used previously. Since World War II, Forensic molecular biology and preliminary molecular analysis has been widely applied to body fluid test. When done accurately, some DNA cells contain some important information for the person like hereditary characteristics.
Blood spatter analysis is another specialization of forensic science used to establish bloodstain evidence. The bloodstain pattern follows a scientific process that produces strong and solid evidence to investigators. Understanding of basic bloodstain patterns analysis allows investigating officers to obtain necessary evidence to present for a case. It therefore goes without argument that a properly manned forensic investigation will lead to having the right means of obtaining criminals and saving the innocent ones the agony of suffering unsought allegations.