The court systems not only expect expert forensic evidence in more serious crimes, they demand it.
Law enforcement agencies are spending a lot of money to secure the services of forensic investigators and are either hiring their own or being forced to utilize those who are with state agencies and generally overworked.
Crime is a growing concern today.
The FBI statistics show varying but consistently high levels of violent crime as well as a continuing growth in property crimes with no end in sight.
How does forensic science assist in the solving of crimes? What role does forensics play in the outcome of criminal trials? The answers are as varied as the types of evidence investigators are using to make their case.
Forensics is best known for today for DNA sampling.
Criminals often leave tell-tale DNA samples at the scene of the crime in the form of a hair, skin samples under a victim's fingernail, blood, or even a cigarette butt.
When DNA can be matched between what is found at the scene to a particular suspect, the case is stronger.
Forensics also covers a host of other scientific procedures and analyses of evidence that has been collected.
Fingerprints can fall under this classification.
A suspect who has left fingerprints on glass, a weapon, or even paper is well on his way to jail.
Fingerprint analysis can match whole or partial prints to an individual with amazing accuracy and place him at the scene of the crime.
Handwriting experts can even identify handwriting samples as belonging to a particular person.
The use of points of similarity between handwriting samples can even be used to overcome the intentional changing of one's handwriting that suspects typically try to perpetrate when asked for their handwriting.
There are many other ways that forensics assist law enforcement in identifying and convicting criminals.
The use of chemicals to locate latent fingerprints not observable to the naked eye, blood splatter analysis and the matching of bullets to a particular gun are all the stuff of television shows that we love to watch but are also the reality being done every day in forensic labs throughout the country.
Forensic science is in the business of providing evidence to convict criminals that might never be convicted without it.
Courts are required to have proof beyond a reasonable doubt before a defendant can be convicted.
This means that the proof must be of such character and magnitude to convince a reasonable person that the defendant actually committed the crime he or she is accused of.
The role of forensics is to provide that level of evidence to investigators who then combine it with other evidence they've obtained such as statements from witnesses and victims and possibly a confession from the defendant.
As these pieces of evidence are presented before the court, the judge, or in some cases the jury, determine if the evidence rises to the standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
Forensics is crucial to the process.