Forensic science is the application of science to civil and criminal laws. However, forensic science is different from the normal type of sciences that exist in the world because this branch of science deals with the past and not the present. Therefore, when considering forensic science, one cannot use the normal scientific procedure in this branch of science. This is because scientific procedures tend to deal with things that are still happening that is, things in the present. When forensic scientists are brought to work a criminal case, they are expected to use their skills and determine from a scientific perspective how the crime was committed, when it was committed. Furthermore, who committed the crime if there is sufficient evidence that places a particular person at the scene of the crime as it was being committed.
At most times, forensic science is used to find a specific theory or prove or disprove a hypothesis to solve a criminal or civil case. The cases may include different degrees of criminal activity that had happened in the past, and the authorities are geared towards establishing a certain theory to catch the perpetrator of the criminal act. These forensic scientific methods used to investigate such things are very popular in the modern world. Forensic science has become an important tool for solving all criminal and civil cases (Larson et al., 2011). Forensic science has provided the criminal and civil law system a supply for the demand for accurate and steadfast results which concludes to the serving of justice not only better but also faster.
The procedure used by forensic scientists to practice the scientific methods is not as normal as the one used in other sciences. Therefore, the procedure takes the abnormal road to coming up with scientific theories that will be proven by the evidence that will be collected. The importance of the steps to be followed is paramount such that an error would be very tragic to the investigation process and may end up misinforming or marginally disrupting the whole investigation (Christensen et al., 2014). At some times it may render the whole investigation null and void leading to the dismissal of the findings made by the investigators. The result would be a delayed or prolonged time taken to find out the perpetrators of a specific crime. Therefore, it would take a longer time for justice to be served. Thus paper is going to elaborate of the specific scientific procedure used by forensic scientists on a step by step basis.
The scientific method or procedure applied to forensic science comprises of mainly four steps. The first step is the observation of a particular phenomenon is it an individual phenomenon or a group phenomenon. What follows is the second step that comprises the act of formulating a hypothesis or hypotheses to explain the phenomenon observed in the first step. The third step includes the usage of the formulated hypotheses to predict or depict the existence of another phenomenon other than the one observed in the first step (Nickell et al., 2013). The third step may also involve the use of the formulated hypothesis or hypotheses to define quantitatively the results of new observation that have been made. Last but not least, the fourth step involves the performance of experiments to prove or disprove the predictions made in the third step. However, this last step is conducted by several different experimenters that are both internal and external about the institution practicing forensic science(Larson et al., 2011).
The processes mentioned above are very specific, and one inherits its knowledge from the previous one. To correctly come up with a forensic scientific theory that is well founded. The forensic scientist would have to go through the steps mentioned above thoroughly. Only then can the theories that are found can be said to be correct. And by the evidence that has been set forth and has been used to come to that conclusion. Therefore, the significance of the steps themselves and their order in the scientific method applied to forensic computer science is highly significant.
The first step of the scientific method applied to forensic science majors on observation. Observation is a key practice that is used by most scientists all over the world to aid in their scientific advances(Nickell et al., 2013). This step also involves the description of the definition of a specific phenomenon or otherwise a group phenomenon. Consequently, observation has not only been used as forensic science tool for the scientific method applied but also by detectives to come up with a logical representation of the events that led up to the crime that has been committed.
For example, in a crime investigation that involves homicide. The victim’s body has to be observed on the scene of the crime to describe the nature of the crime committed. By observing the victim’s body, forensic scientists may discover the cause of death and time of death.These discoveries will go a long way into the conclusion of the investigation after the formulation of a hypothesis that has been well tested and proved by experimenters. Therefore, the first step goes a long way into aiding the following step of the crime investigation and the remaining steps of the scientific method applied in forensic science.
After using observation to describe a specific phenomenon or group phenomena. The second step follows. This step major on the formulation of a hypothesis or hypotheses to explain the phenomenon or group phenomena arrived at the conclusion of the first steps. When a crime occurs, and the evidence has been observed or rather the scene of the crime has been observed. Then a theory or a question is essentially framed about the incident(Larson et al., 2011). For example, if a forensic scientist observes the victim’s body in a homicide investigation. The one may observe strangulation marks at the neck, bullet holes in the victim’s body, stab wound or blunt force trauma. All of the above observations may lead to the formulation of a hypothesis that is specific. For example, if the observation was strangulation marks at the neck area. Then the forensic scientist would not be wrong in saying that the victim was strangled at some point before his or her death. Therefore, the theory or hypothesis of strangulation would lead to further exploration of activities that will expound on the hypothesis.
The third step practically involves the usage of the hypothesis to essentially predict the probable existence of other phenomena. The third step also attempts to explain quantitatively the observations that had already been made and new observations in other cases.In forensic science, the hypothesis is regarded as that answer to a question that was framed in the second step. Thus, in the third step, the forensic examiner tries to use the hypothesis to explain what was initially observed(Nickell et al, 2013).This creates a cause and effect relationship. The possible cause being the formulated hypothesis while the observation that was made being the effect. This third step is crucial to the step that ensues. Therefore, it is important that the third step is conducted with focus and keenness to avoid missed observations and inappropriate predictions that will make the whole process prone to error.
The final step of the scientific method applied to forensic science involves the examining of the predictions made in the third step. These predictions are what will guide the experiments to be carried out in this stage. One has to use experiments in science to prove or disprove a certain theory(Larson et al., 2011). Therefore, the use of experiments in forensic science is also well appreciated. The experiments are carried out by several experimenters. The experimenters may belong to the institution that is conducting the forensic investigation.
However, there might be independent experimenters who may be brought in to validate the findings of other experimenter’s work. Furthermore, the results of the experiment by many experimenters must be found not to be coincidental but certain and intended. This would put an airtight seal on the legitimacy or validity of the experiments performed.Accuracy is, therefore, a very significant aspect of forensic science.
Forensic science has proved to be a very useful tool in the provision of justice in criminal investigations. There was a demand for a way to provide accurate and steadfast results that will accelerate the provision of justice regarding criminal and civil. Furthermore, forensic science has provided an avenue for the criminal investigation establishments to make a proven decision that will make serving justice a just cause. No mistakes are allowed in the investigation process. Reason being coming to a wrong conclusion may risk the validity of the whole process. Moreover, it may lead to an innocent person being convicted of the wrong crime while the real culprit is out there walking the streets. In the worst case, more crimes may be committed and make it harder to catch the real culprit. Therefore, there must be strict policies and thoroughness adhered to when forensic scientists practice their profession in the crime investigations.
Christensen, A. M., Crowder, C. M., Ousley, S. D., & Houck, M. M. (2014). Error and its meaning in forensic science. Journal of forensic sciences,59(1), 123-126.
Hollien, H. (2013). The acoustics of crime: The new science of forensic phonetics. Springer Science & Business Media.
Larson, D. O., Vass, A. A., & Wise, M. (2011). Advanced Scientific Methods and Procedures in the Forensic Investigation of Clandestine Graves. Journal Of Contemporary Criminal Justice, 27(2), 149-182. doi:10.1177/1043986211405885
Nickell, J., & Fischer, J. F. (2013). Crime science: methods of forensic detection. University Press of Kentucky.