But for the use of forensic science, many crimes would go unsolved. Through the use of forensic science, investigators can find out specific details about a crime---such as who committed it, when it was committed and how it was committed. Forensic science can also help to find information about unknown victims that need to be identified.
Types of Forensic Science
Forensic scientists can be found in many professional disciplines, including chemistry, engineering, art, psychology, biology and accounting.
One benefit of forensic science is that it can help create a picture of how a crime occurred. Each piece of the picture---who committed the crime, where the crime occurred, the weapons that were used and when the crime took place---all come together through the tests that forensic scientists conduct. Forensic scientists of different fields each work in concert to contribute a portion of this picture until it is complete.
Eyewitness Testimony Problems
Eyewitness testimony can be unreliable, so forensic science can confirm the accounts of people interviewed at a crime scene---or refute them. Although eyewitnesses are a good start in solving crimes, their stories must be backed up by the science.
Forensic science can determine who a suspect is based on the evidence that is discovered at crime scenes. If a crime occurs and no one steps forward to confess, or there were no witnesses to the event, forensic scientists can analyze physical evidence---such as DNA or fingerprints---to find out who committed the crime. This information is checked against databases of offenders to find out information about whether the suspect has a criminal record.
Forensic science can put a suspect together with a victim when a crime has been committed. By leaving behind evidence---like threads from a shirt, a drop of blood or strands of hair---a criminal is giving forensic scientists material that can be used to prove that a suspect was at the scene of a crime.
Just as forensic science can identify the perpetrator of a crime, it can also identify the victims of crimes---as well as people who may have died in car accidents or natural disasters. In order to do this, forensic dentists may analyze the teeth of someone's body against dental records that are provided by area dentists. Identifying a victim is also done by forensic anthropologists, who examine skeletons to determine characteristics (gender, whether the person had a child and race) that can help people come forward with leads.
Likewise, forensic artists work on creating likenesses of missing persons using age-progression technologies that can generate a picture of what someone may look like after many years. This type of technology is also used when a suspect has fled and has not been found for a long time.
Many people who watch shows like "CSI" and "Forensic Files" mistakenly believe that forensic science can solve every case. Sometimes forensic evidence is not used in certain cases because it is not necessary, or human error has made it difficult to come to definitive conclusions about the evidence.