Forensic science is any science that can be used in the legal system. Forensic scientists look at evidence with scientific principles in mind. Though much forensic work applies to criminal cases, sometimes it applies to civil proceedings as well.
Some forensic scientists focus on crime scene investigation, at the scene where a crime was committed, searching for clues that will help other investigators figure out what happened. Their work focuses strongly on the physical sciences, and includes (but is not limited to):
1. Ballistics and FirearmsFirearms experts focus on ammunition, the weapon that fired it, how to match them up, the trajectory of a shot (or its ricochet) and more.
2. Arson and ExplosivesA strong understanding of a variety of explosives and accelerants, as well as flashpoints and burn patterns, forms the basis of arson and explosives investigations.
3. FingerprintsThe prints left behind can mean anything from identification of key parties to a solid conviction of a perpetrator. Fingerprint analysis is one of the oldest and most common ways to determine who was at a crime scene.
4. Trace EvidenceDuring the commission of a crime, even the most seasoned criminal leaves something behind. It might be as simple as skin cells under a victim’s nails, a single strand of hair, or a seemingly innocuous fiber from a sweater – forensic scientists can drill down into the essence of this evidence to find much more.
5. Accident ReconstructionWhen an accident occurs, it falls to the forensic scientist to figure out what exactly happened. To do this, they reconstruct the exact conditions of the accident, using clues such as skid marks, vehicle positioning and the like.
6. Bloodstain Pattern AnalysisWhere there is a murder, there is often blood. Forensic scientists can examine the pattern of bloodstains to determine where a person was standing, exactly how the perpetrator attacked them, and perhaps even the weapon used.
Some forensic scientists focus on biological and life sciences to help those in the legal world understand what happened in a particular situation. These scientists can often be found in laboratory or other investigative setting, where they closely examine a variety of evidence.