Types of Forensics
“Forensics” is a lab where Columbo and many other TV detectives sent their evidence (in little plastic bags) to find stuff out, forensic science, the crucial science of gathering evidence about a suspect and helping the law enforcement officials to determine exactly what happened at the scene of the crime. Of course, there’s a lot more to forensics than determining whether the offending bullet was actually fired from that gun, or whether the stain on the carpet is the blood of the victim who was found 50 miles away!
Types of Forensics
There are lots of different types of forensics;
- Computer Forensics
- Forensic Anthropology
- Forensic Toxicology
- Forensic Accounting
Computer Forensics – this area of forensics is where computer technicians gather and analyze information (or data, as they call it in computer-land) from computers and other digital media gadgets. If someone has been accused of a crime which involves downloading obscene materials from the internet, for example, or of sending out harassing and malicious emails then they may have their computer records checked, sometimes the computer might even be confiscated to be used as evidence at a future court appearance.
It’s all clever stuff you know, so next time you’ve been looking at something you shouldn’t have and think you’ve deleted it . . . you have been warned.
Forensic Anthropology – is probably a little bit nearer to the TV detective forensics, not quite CSI but close . . . maybe a body has decomposed so much that there is only a skeleton left for the crime investigators to discover what really happened. Forensic anthropologists can examine bone fragments, teeth, any little bits and pieces which are left over to try and determine the cause of death. They can also work on fragments of clothing, hair etc. . . . it’s a bit like a jig-saw puzzle with half of the pieces missing.
Forensic Toxicology – is whereby forensic scientists study chemicals like alcohol and drugs to determine whether the abuse of drugs and/or alcohol played a part in a death. It can also determine whether a person has been poisoned, the forensic toxicologists will do this by analyzing samples of blood taken from the body. During a forensic toxicology examination the medical examiner will also check out the stomach contents of the victim, to find out all about the last meal of the deceased, what they ate and when they ate it. This can give crime scene investigators invaluable evidence about the last few hours of the deceased and just what they were getting up to. It can also help to determine the time of death.
Forensic Accounting – okay, perhaps forensic accounting might not sound quite so glamorous and exciting as to finding out “who dunnit and when” . . . but if you’re “that way inclined” then it is pretty exciting just the same. Forensic accountants are less likely to investigate murders, they are more likely to investigate what are classified as “crimes against property”. They investigate crimes like fraud and may even be called upon to give expert testimony in some fraud court trials . . . I told you it was exciting sometimes! They also perform many duties which relate to civil disputes . . . other, perhaps more exciting terms for forensic accountants include; fraud investigators, forensic auditors, investigative accountants or fraud auditors. It all means pretty much the same thing – forensic accounting.
Forensic accounting has become a little more high profile in recent years thanks to an increase in high profile, financial crimes, remember the Enron scandal in 2001 or Adelphia Communications the following year . . . who do you think did all of the donkey work to uncover the huge extent of the fraud, you’ve got it, impartial forensic accountants employed by the government to investigate the rather dubious accounting practices of the executives and their accounting firms.