Pub. date: 2004 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952415 | Print ISBN: 9780761926498 | Online ISBN: 9781412952415| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Forensic science is a unique discipline in which the principles and techniques of the basic sciences (biology, chemistry, and physics) are used to analyze evidence, thereby retrieving information to help solve problems related to civil and criminal law. Forensic scientists may be employed by a public agency, such as a law enforcement department or a medical examiner's office, or they may work for private commercial laboratories. Criminalists are forensic scientists who deal almost exclusively with criminal matters, working cooperatively with law enforcement personnel, pathologists, and other forensic specialists as well as with prosecutors and defense attorneys. They use the scientific method to develop factual information that is presented in a written report and in oral testimony for jurors so that they can make an informed decision as to the guilt or innocence of a defendant. The adversarial criminal justice system uses the Socratic method of question and answer to arrive ...