Forensic Science (often shortened to forensics) is the application of a broad spectrum of sciences to answer questions of interest to a legal system which may relate to a crime or a civil suit. Serology, Psychology, Entomology, Toxicology, Odontology, Biology, Chemistry, and Biology are just a few examples of sciences used in forensics today.
The word forensic stems from the Latin word forēnsis, meaning “of or before the forum”. Back in the day of the Romans, when a person was accused of a criminal offense a case was presented to a group of public individuals called the forum. Today, the term forensics is used as a synonym for “legal” or “related to the courts”. Forensics are legal evidence presented to the courts as a category of public presentation.
The basic principal of forensic science was pioneered by Dr. Edmond Locard. He speculated that every contact you make with another person, place, or object results in an exchange of physical materials. This became known as Locard’s exchange principal. This exchange of physical materials can can be used to prove a person’s innocence or guilt in a court of law.
In a typical criminal investigation, crime scene investigators, sometimes known as Crime Scene Investigators (CSI), will gather physical evidence from the scene of the crime, victim and/or suspect. Forensic scientists then examine the materials collected to provide scientific evidence to assist in the police investigation and court proceedings. As such, they often work very closely with the police.
If a death occurs, forensics can be used to determine when, where, and how a person died. If it was not a natural death, forensics can also prove if another individual was responsible for causing that death, and what weapon was used in the crime.