Chemistry in Forensics

Forensic experts have widely integrated Chemistry in Criminal Justice. Chemistry has been defined as the science that concerns itself with the composition, properties, and structure of matter and the transformational ways of substance from what form to the other (Vitz). The definition of chemistry concerns itself with the approach and not the subject matter. Forensic Science involves application into legal matters of the knowledge and methodology of the different existing science disciplines. Physics, chemistry, biology, computer science and engineering and other disciplines are used for the analysis of the evidence. For instance, to decipher blood spatter pattern, physics is used (Collins, 2). To determine the source of an unidentified suspect, biology is applied while to determine the chemical composition of drugs, chemistry is used. The forensic science vital player in the criminal justice system since it provides scientific data through the analysis of tangible physical evidence. Chemistry distinguishes and understands each subject in terms of its atomic and molecular properties and is therefore very helpful in forensics.

Forensic chemistry incorporates both organic and inorganic analysis, toxicology, investigation of arson, and serology. Specialized techniques and instrumentation are applied by each method of analysis. When tracing evidence such as materials which are often microscopic in scope and that are transferred easily between victims, perpetrators, clothing articles, weapons, and other objects, forensic is very helpful. These materials majorly are fibers, plastics, tape, paint and hair. Other materials include; ropes, gunshot particles, fabrics, and cosmetics (Bell, 298). In the course of an investigation, a comparison is made to the collected materials utilizing different instrumental techniques including microscope and chemicals. The instruments used include the compound, the comparison, and polarized light microscopes.

Moreover, technology advancement and scientific innovations have promoted forensic science to integrate in various disciplines and created disciplines of specialization by forensic specialists. In criminal justice, forensic science has been greatly incorporated serving as objective facts and evidences in defense or prosecution arguments through scientific knowledge (Barar, 11). Since forensic evidence and testimonies are based on scientific facts, forensic expert’s testimonies are trusted in both civil and criminal cases. Forensic scientists focus on scientific facts and not the outcome of the case. In essence, forensic science is based on based on natural sciences’ concepts and strategies. To be specific, forensic science study encompasses multi-disciplinary strategy that addresses everything in both biological and analytical chemistry methods.

Forensic chemistry derives from principles and concepts of chemistry when analyzing physical evidence. In forensic chemistry, it is vital to investigate a substance’s physical and chemical properties. It will be impossible for forensic chemistry suppose these scientific method and the properties are not appreciated. Note that properties of a substance described not necessarily needing a chemical change are physical properties while properties described only from a chemical change are referred to as chemical properties (Barar, 12). For example, the resultant blue colored product from a reaction between cocaine and cobalt thiocyanate is the chemical property. This helps investigators in the identification of cocaine.

Regardless of the difference in the substance analysis methods of the physical and chemical properties, they are both based on scientific method. This method starts with observation. The scientists try to keenly observe and identify trends and patterns. As soon as the scientist identifies the relationship within the observations, they proceed to recommend a hypothesis that significantly describes what is being observed. They proceed to formulate a plan intended to test the hypothesis. Eventually, the plan is implemented while observations are noted. In the instance that the latter observations contrast the original one, another new hypothesis is recommended and as well tested (Collins, 5). Nonetheless, suppose the new observation authenticates the original one, scientist commonly opts to improvise a subsequent plan to extensively authenticate the hypothesis. According to chemistry in order to distinguish one element from another, chemical and physical properties are used. These properties are useful in identifying, classifying, and individualizing of physical evidence in forensic chemistry.

With intent of identifying the source of the sample, forensic analysis is performed which facilitates the identification of the questioned sample and by comparing it to a known sample. Outcome of such comparisons may relate a questioned sample including other samples to the same origin. Therefore, apart from the questioned sample, the forensic chemist will analyze more (Collins, 8). Every question sampled in a comparative analysis will need numerous known samples to be examined. The forensic analysis trails the order of identification, classification, and individualization. Constraints differ at the course of every phase of analysis. Identification is usually forthright to the unqualified persons and sometimes experience and erudite instruments are necessitated.

In crime investigation, exploitation and implementation of forensic science are very valuable and fundamental to a criminal investigator. Such forensic investigation can result in either acquittal or conviction in a court. Forensic science is functional in criminal justice in various ways. DNA has found to be powerful and trusted against crime as it facilitates the identification of suspects, conviction of the guilty and exoneration of the innocent. Criminal justice professionals across the country have identified an improvement in scientific DNA technology which seems to solve pending criminal cases (Barar,12). Nowadays, evidence with little biological sample inappropriate to be tested by DNA can produce a DNA profile. The advancement in DNA technology and progressive DNA database systems has been an inspiration to law enforcement agencies in addressing the unsolved cases based on DNA evidence.

Identifying a victim in an unrecognized state needs the use of science by forensic odontologist. The teeth are examined, the alignment and the general structure of the mouth for identification (Bell, 305). Comparative identification of a person is aided by forensic dentists or odontologists that happen by examination of the development and anatomy of the teeth, for example, any restorative dental corrections as filling. Bite mark analysis in criminal investigations is often applied.

Forensic Toxicology is a branch of forensic science which involves analysis of biological models to determine the presence of drugs and toxins. Forensic Toxicology is very important in road carnages, sexual assaults, poisoning, bombing among other current crimes that forensic science usually concerns itself with. Vital information concerning the nature of substances in a victim connected to an incident is equipped with toxicology reports. It also compares the standard of quality of substance according to therapeutic permissible levels ( Mozayani and Noziglia, 30).  Forensic toxicology is evolved at all times and requires frequent updating approaches because new types of drugs are developed each day. The dynamic nature of this branch, therefore, demands those involved in toxicology to keep abreast with the latest trends in criminology.

Forensic Anthropology is a branch that involves itself with the examination of interfered remains or skeletons of humans in order to help check for the details such as age, weight, height, gender, and ancestry. To also establish the time since death by checking and examining any injuries in the victim, forensic anthropology is applied  (Mozayani and Noziglia, 35). Important leads for identification of victims mostly in instances which bodies are unrecognizable are given by analyses from this branch of science.

Forensic Pathology and Medicolegal Death Inquiry majors in determination of the cause of deaths that require examination of corpses mostly are aided by forensic pathology. Deducible data and facts that can be used in a court of law are obtained through the collection and perspicacious analysis of medical samples which forensic medicine is involved in. Identifying wound patterns can help in determining the weapon that was used in the assault causing the wound is an example of the instances ( Mozayani and Noziglia, 34). Therefore, forensic pathologists can give crucial inferences on the nature of deaths that is if the death was either, natural, criminal or accidental.

            Chemistry is an essential element of forensic science and we can truthfully affirm that forensic scientist is a chemist. It is, therefore, a necessity for forensic scientists to understand the principles of chemistry, its concepts, and techniques. However, they must be erudite in matters relevant to their career, for example, the existing criminal justice systems, the constitution, and laws both in state and federal levels of government and the chains of custody. It is of great importance for the forensic scientists to put prominence on an impeccable criminal record and to exercise the highest attainable moral and ethical standards.