Read possible definitions of the notion «Forensic Science», which of them is the best in your opinion. Give your reasons.

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Read possible definitions of the notion «Forensic Science», which of them is the best in your opinion. Give your reasons.

Definition of Forensic Science 1

Forensic science is the application of natural sciences to matters of the law. In practice, forensic science draws upon physics, chemistry, biology, and other scientific principles and methods. Forensic science is concerned with the recognition, identification, individualization, and evaluation of physical evidence. Forensic scientists present their findings as expert witnesses in the court of law.

(Midwest Forensics Resource Center at the U.S. Dept. of Energy)


Definition of Forensic Science 2

The word “forensic” means “pertaining to the law”; forensic science resolves legal issues by applying scientific principles to them.

(Hall Dillon, Bureau of Labor Statistics)


Definition of Forensic Science 3

Forensic Science is the application of the methods and techniques of the basic sciences to legal issues. As you can imagine Forensic Science is a very broad field of study. Crime Laboratory Scientists, sometimes called Forensic Scientists or, more properly, Criminalists, work with physical evidence collected at scenes of crimes.

(California Criminalistics Institute)


Definition of Forensic Science 4


Forensic science is the scientific analysis and documentation of evidence suitable for legal proceedings. Many people have heard the term “forensics” used to describe school debate clubs. There is a similarity between these two forms of the word. In academic forensics, political or other issues are debated between two teams using a logical approach, and likewise in forensic science the debate (or comparison) is between the physical evidence and the known or suspected circumstances about an event.

Forensic scientists determine scientific facts from the evidence they evaluate and may testify as expert witnesses in civil or criminal courts or other legal proceedings. It is the responsibility of the lawyers, judges, and juries to prosecute, defend, and judge the guilt or innocence of an individual accused of wrongdoing. It is the responsibility of the forensic scientist to present the scientific facts in a fair, objective manner based on accepted scientific methods to facilitate the decision.

(Hamilton County Forensic Center)


Make up an abstract of the text in writing using key words from exercise 2.


1. Read the text and answer the questions:

1. What does a forensic scientist do?

2.What feature distinguishes forensic scientists from any other scientist?

3.Where do forensic scientists work?

4.Who is considered to be the grandfather of modern criminalistics?

5. What does a criminalistdo?

6. What does a forensic generalist do?

7. What does an evidence technician do?




A forensic scientist examines physical evidence and then testifies about the results of their findings in court. They are in fact defined by the expectation that they may give expert testimony about their examinations and further provide interpretations or opinions under oath. As explained in Thornton (1997):

The single feature that distinguishes forensic scientists from any other scientist is the certain expectation that they will appear in court and testify to their findings and offer an opinion as to the significance of those findings. The forensic scientist will testify not only to what things are, but to what things mean. Forensic science is science exercised on behalf of the law in the just resolution of conflict.

A true forensic scientist is not a policeman, nor are they partial about the outcome of their examinations. They are objective investigators of scientific fact. Subsequently, a forensic scientist may work in a state run crime lab, or they many work in private practice.

There are different kinds of physical evidence, and subsequently there are different kinds of forensic scientists, all variously educated and trained.

The Austrian Jurist Dr. Hans Gross (born Johann Baptist Gustav Gross, 1847-1915), was one of the earliest forensic scientists of modern record. In his ground-breaking text, System Der Kriminalistik published in 1893, he is widely credited with coining the term "criminalistics". Dr. Gross is also widely regarded as the grandfather of modern criminalistics. A criminalist, by his usage, would have been one who studies crime, criminals, and the scientific methods of their identification, apprehension, and prosecution.

In modern use, the scope of the term criminalist has been greatly narrowed. It now refers only to a particular kind of forensic scientist who, according to the American Board of Criminalists (ABC), specializes in one or more of the following areas:

Forensic Biology (serology and/or DNA)

Drug Analysis

Fire Debris Analysis

Trace Evidence (hairs, fibers, paints, & polymers).

A criminalist may or may not be board certified by the ABC. They may also be trained in crime reconstruction related to their areas of specialized knowledge, though this is not always the case. Some may visit crime scenes on a regular basis, and some may never leave their lab station. Most modern criminalists will have a four-year degree of some kind, likely in a hard science like chemistry or biology. However, there are plenty of exceptions. Every lab and agency has their own unique policies and procedures about such things.


A forensic generalist is a particular kind of forensic scientist who is broadly trained in a variety of forensic specialties. They are big picture people who can help reconstruct a crime from work performed with the assistance of other forensic scientists, and then direct investigators to forensic specialists as needed. They can also make for good crime lab administrators or directors.

Because of the depth and complexity of criminalistics, the need for specialists is inescapable. There can be serious problems, however, with overspecialization. Persons who have working knowledge of a broad range of criminalistics problems and techniques are also necessary. These people are called generalists. The value of generalists lies in their ability to look at all of the aspects of a complex case and decide what needs to be done, which specialists should be involved, and in which order to carry out the required examinations.

The generalist typically has broad education and training in the major forensic sciences, and will often have a master's or doctorate level education. However, many of those claiming to be generalists have only a law enforcement background with no formal science education. These are often police technicians who have confused their role with that of forensic scientist.


As suggested, a related profession is that of evidence technician. An evidence technician is charged with the recognition, documentation, collection, and preservation physical evidence. Sometimes they even have training, though this is not necessary. A full time evidence technician is typically not a forensic scientist, and is not necessarily qualified to examine forensic evidence and interpret its meaning. Evidence technicians may be attached to the police department, the crime lab, or the medical examiners office. They are not necessarily sworn police officers, though they can be. It is common for technicians not to have attended a four-year degree program at a college or university. Some have two year associates degrees, and still others have only on the job training with a high-school diploma. In many jurisdictions, police officers must do this work themselves with little or no forensic training, for lack of specialized assistance.


2. Fill in the chart with appropriate information from the text:

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