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The internal and external examination of a body after death. An autopsy is performed to confirm or determine the cause of death and establish other pre-death conditions, such as the type of food last consumed and the time it was consumed.
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The internal and external examination of a body after death. An autopsy is performed to confirm or determine the cause of death and establish other pre-death conditions, such as the type of food last consumed and the time it was consumed.
The study of the motion of bullets and their examination for distinctive characteristics after being fired. Examiners can use this evidence to match bullets or bullet fragments to specific weapons.
Blood Splatter
The pattern of blood that has struck a surface. This pattern can provide vital information about the source of the blood. Can help determine the size and type of wound, the direction and the speed with which the perpetrator or victim was moving, and the type of weapon used to create the blood spill.
The diameter of the bore of a rifled firearm, usually expressed in hundredths of an inch or in millimeters.
Composite Drawing
A sketch of a suspect produced from eyewitness descriptions of one or more persons.
The study of criminal activity and how it is dealt with by the law.
Deoxyribonucleic acid. Double helix strand. Genetic code (fingerprint). 50% from mom and 50% from dad. ACGT.
DNA Electrophoresis
The technique by which DNA fragments are placed in a gel and charged with electricity. An applied electric field then separates the fragments by size, as part of the process of creating a genetic profile.
DNA Profiling
The process of testing to identify DNA patterns or types. In forensic science this testing is used to indicate parentage or to exclude or include individuals as possible sources of bodily fluid stains (blood, saliva, semen) and other biological evidence (bones, hair, teeth)
Anything that has been used, left, removed, altered, or contaminated during the commission of a crime or other event under investigation
The unique patterns created by skin ridges found on the palm sides of fingers and thumbs.
Forensic Science
The application of science to law. The application of science to those criminal and civil laws that are enforced by police agencies in a criminal justice system. The focus of forensics is the crime lab. The crime lab uses the principles and technique of biology, chemistry, physics, geology, anthropology, and other sciences in order to place physical evidence into a professional discipline.
Gas Chromatograph (GC)
A forensic tool used to identify the chemical makeup of substances used in the commission of crimes. The questioned substance is burned at high temperatures. The temperature at which this material becomes gas is then charted to determine its makeup.
A unit of inheritance consisting of a sequence of DNA that determines a particular characteristic in an organism.
A red blood cell protein responsible for transporting oxygen in the bloodstream. Provides the red coloring of blood.
Latent fingerprint
A fingerprint made by deposits of oils and/or perspiration, not usually visible to the human eye.
Lie Detector
A machine that charts how respiration and other bodily functions change as questions are asked of the person being tested. Also known as a polygraph. An attempt to knowingly provide false answers can cause changes in bodily functions.
A chemical that is capable of detecting bloodstains diluted up to 10,000 times. Is used to identify blood that has been removed from a given area.
Physical Evidence
Any object that can help explain an event under investigation, Can establish that a crime has been committed, and Sometimes can provide a link between a crime and its victim or between a crime and its perpetrator.
Ridge Characteristics
Ridge endings, bifurcations, enclosures, and other ridge details, which must match in two fingerprints for their common origin to be established.
A technology dealing with the properties and actions of serums in blood
Super Glue Fuming
Techniques used to develop latent fingerprints on non-porous surfaces. A chemical in the glue reacts with and adheres to the finger oils, and then exposes latent prints.
The study of poisons and drugs and their effect on human and animal populations. It is the study of symptoms, mechanisms, treatments and detection of poisoning, especially the poisoning of people.
Trace Evidence
Material deposited at a crime or accident scene that can only be detected through a deliberate processing procedure. An individual entering any environment will deposit traces of his or her presence, and this material can be used as evidence. Examples- hairs and fibers
The path of a projectile. A trajectory can be described mathematically either by the geometry of the path, or as the position of the object over time.
Locard's Exchange Principle
Dr Edmund Locard, a French police officer and forensic scientist. Any physical contact between a suspect and victim will result in physical evidence being exchanged between them.
Mass Spectrometry
A technique used by toxicologist to identify chemical compositions. The instrument breaks a chemical down into its ions and accelerates them in a magnetic field that produces a unique spectrum.
Mitochrondrial DNA (mtDNA)
Used to trace ancestry. Type of DNA located in the mitochondrion of most cells. Last longer than nuclear DNA. Only comes from the mother
Nuclear DNA
The unique DNA that is inherited from each parent
Modus Operandi (MO)
The usual method of operation used by a perpetrator. Particular weapon used or taking "trophy" items from victims
Professional Witness
A professional person who testifies at a trial. Police officer or security guard
Reenactment of a crime
The use of ordinary people or actors to recreate a crime.
Reconstruction of a crime
Determining the way a crime happened, pieced together using evidence at the crime scene.
"Before death"
At or around the time of death
"After death"
Presumptive test
Cheap, simple test that shows that a sample probably contains the substance the test aims to identify
An individual who might possibly have committed the crime under investigation. Guilt is presumed or has been proven
Public official who is responsible for investigating any death that may not have had a natural cause
Medical Examiner
Trained medical practitioner who devotes some or all of their time to forensic work
Forensic dentistry
The study of the causes and consequences of disease and injury in relation to crime and the law
An injury in which the skin has been scraped off.
Automated Fingerprint Identification System. Scans fingerprints electronically and plots the positions of their ridge characteristics, comparing them with prints in a database.
Fingerprint ridges that rise above one another at their center like an arch.
Fingerprint patterns that resemble small whirlpools revolving around a point.
Fingerprint patterns consisting of ridges that double back on themselves.
Cadaveric Spasm
A type of instant rigor mortis in which muscle stiffness occurs just after death because the muscles were being used with great exertion while dying.
Computer Analysis and Response Team; FBI; Examines computers during investigations.
Closed-circuit television; Surveillance camera used to record crimes being committed, to find lost persons, or to prevent crime.
Chain of Custody
A list that records every official person who handles a piece of evidence. Those in the chain put their initials and the date on the evidence container.
Combined DNA Index System (FBI). Used to share DNA profiles kept in the FBI's National DNA Index System (NDIS) with law enforcement bodies.
Cold Case
An old unsolved criminal case. Many are now being solved with the advent of DNA test.
Comparison Microscope
A microscope that has two compound light microscopes with an optical bridge, so that two samples can be viewed in a single eyepiece. It is used to match trace evidence such as fibers and bullet casings.
The act of ruining evidence by accidentally depositing outside trace evidence, including DNA, on items from a crime scene or suspect.
A bruise in which the skin is not broken.
First aid method of cardio-pulmonary resuscitation. Mouth-to-mouth resuscitation is combined with chest compressions.
Expert Witness
A specialist witness, such as a forensic scientist, who testifies at a trial.
Forensic Information System for Handwriting. A database for handwriting samples
First officer attending a crime scene
A break, crack, or shattering of a bone
The complete set of DNA within a cell
Henry System
A system used for classifying 10-fingerprint collections. Developed in 1899 by Sir Edward R. Henry with the British police in India
Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (FBI's). Police forces can submit samples to be compared to those on this computerized database
A cut that is deep enough to need stitches
Accumulated degree hours. Time x temp. Amount of energy required for insects to move from one developmental stage to the next.
Time of death, The time a body died
Postmortem interval, Time since death
"Dead on arrival"
Polymerase chain reaction. A "molecular photocopying" technique that amplifies specific regions of a DNA strand, used to copy DNA
Scene of Crime Officer
Rigor Mortis
A stiffening of the body that occurs about 30 minutes after death and continues for up to 18 hours.
Livor mortis
A coloration of the skin of the lower parts of a corpse caused by the settling of the red blood cells as the blood ceases to circulate
Algor Mortis
The postmortem cooling of the body.
Reagent that turns latent fingerprints purple
Pattern evidence
Evidence in which the shape or distribution of a substance provides information rather than the substance itself.
Gunshot residue
Unburned primer powder sprayed on to the hands of someone firing a gun, and possibly on to the target
A cordlike object used for strangulation
The process of a body's soft tissues completely decomposing to leave only the bones.
Staged crime scene
A crime scene where the perpetrator has left false clues to mislead investigators
A wound or a physical or emotional shock to the body
Witness of fact
A member of the general public who testifies at a trial
Manner of Death
Legal classification of how someone died determined by the coroner. Suicide, natural, accidental, or homicide
Fuel used to make a deliberately set fire burn more vigorously
Cause of death
The action that resulted in death, a blow to the head or brain hemorrhage
Class Evidence
Evidence that is specific enough to identify overall characteristics but too general for a unique identification

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