Sample Research Paper on Forensic Science

Forensic Science

Forensic science comprises of various disciplines that involve supporting or resolving legal cases by employing scientific investigation. Forensic technicians are persons tasked with the responsibility of helping the criminal justice system in solving criminal cases through the collection and analysis of physical evidence and other facts prevailing at crime scenes. The wide range of activities they conduct includes the analysis of fingerprints, blood, semen, weapons, saliva, hair, and drugs, and sometimes may also reconstruct crime scenes that are tampered with (Saferstein, 2011). Additionally, the forensic scientists safeguard the reports they have written about their findings, testify and present evidence in court proceedings, as well as discuss how the evidence was collected with the lawyers and law enforcement officers.

The function of forensic scientists is vital and helps in the determination of an accused person’s innocence or responsibility in a criminal activity (Siegel & Mirakovits, 2010). Their work may also eliminate the need to take a case to trial, thereby saving time and resources of the justice system. The judicial system relies on the evidence provided by the forensic technician to make cases in law courts; therefore, a person interested in this career should be detailed and cautious to maintain the integrity of the evidence. There are numerous job openings for forensic scientists, including employment at police departments, mortuaries, government agencies or working as an independent consultant.

Forensic scientists can improve their reputation and chances for potential employment by getting accredited by certification bodies, which show prospective employers that one is an experienced professional (Saferstein, 2011). Most of the certifications require that forensic personnel complete an examination or have specific professional qualifications to be qualified for the exercise.

Pros and Cons

There are many opportunities in the forensic science career, and the field is expected to maintain 19 percent job growth rate in the next ten years (Siegel & Mirakovits, 2010). One can choose to focus their work on biology, toxicology, or pathology, among others and qualify as a crime scene examiner, forensic deontologist, crime laboratory analyst, forensic engineer, medical examiner, academic analyst or technical analyst. The area of expertise one chooses will be used in the provision of information like the causative factor of death and the time it happened.

Forensic scientists, especially those that gather evidence at the crime scenes, have papery, disposable body suits, gloves, and masks that have high resistance to abrasion, but offer comfort, mobility, and protection of the crime scene.

The government often runs the profession of forensic science and the professionals usually work for the federal or state-owned crime laboratories. Therefore, the professionals are entitled to some benefits, like health insurance and leave from the government. The forensic technicians who are skillful and have gained a lot of experience are often in high demand.

A career in forensic science offers a person steady work and consistent salary that puts them in the upper 50 percent of earners in the nation, which can sustain their needs comfortably in today’s economy (Siegel & Mirakovits, 2010). The more specialized positions demand higher education degrees in masters or doctorate, and also state and federal certifications, which attract higher salaries.

Forensic scientists collect evidence, which they analyze and use to determine if a crime was committed, how and when it was done, as well as the sequence of events that occurred at the crime scene. They also identify victims; exclude innocents, who may have been initially considered suspects, exonerate persons that are wrongly convicted, resolve cases that took place a long time in the past, link the guilty to unsolved criminal cases, and significantly reduce costs of trials by eliminating delays (Saferstein, 2011).  This career provides a real impact in terms of the safety and security of fellow citizens and the confidence it gives the judicial system. These duties are for the good of the community and for the efficiency of the criminal justice system, which serve as an inward reward for the forensic scientists.

The career exposes one to some dreadful and disturbing cases, which may affect the personal lives of the professionals (Siegel & Mirakovits, 2010). Sometimes, it may prove difficult to maintain a belief in the good of people when one spends all their time analyzing and documenting some of the most atrocious criminal cases on record. Moreover, testifying in the court may lead to the exposure and compromise of a forensic scientist’s privacy.

The job may require one to work in a chemical lab, which could end up exposing them to hazardous chemicals. Over time, the chemicals may interfere with the physiological condition of the scientist that may make them err when making observations (Siegel & Mirakovits, 2010).

There is usually constant pressure on the government to reduce funding given in areas like forensic science, which limits the number of beginning positions for prospective professionals. Furthermore, the competition to hire is fierce because those who have skills and experience in the field are usually sought after; thereby, leaving little or no room for the beginners (Saferstein, 2011).

The job can be stressful at times, given the extended hours spent at crime scenes during throughout the day. One working in a metropolitan area may be called upon several nights, including weekends. There is also too much pressure from the law enforcement personnel to gather and complete analysis in short office.

Requirements and Benefits

One requires a 4-year degree in Sciences, preferably, microbiology, biology, chemistry, or genetics to get an entry-level position in the field. In addition, classes in law and communication, as well as laboratory experience, are essential in the practice. Given that the work of forensic scientists is often conducted in stressful environments and involves collaboration with different people, it is necessary that persons who choose this profession posses excellent ‘people’ skills (Siegel & Mirakovits, 2010). It is also expected that forensic scientists are people with good communication skills in terms of speaking and writing because their work demands many written reports and are often called upon to testify in court. They should be people that pay attention to small details and be problem solvers to follow small leads and uncover mysteries surrounding crime scene investigations. Besides, as the job involves frequent handling of minute pieces of evidence and studying them through a microscope, forensic scientists are required to have outstanding hand-eye coordination skills.

Forensic scientists are required to uphold professional ethics in their duties in offering service to the public and the criminal justice system (Saferstein, 2011). The physical evidence normally presented by the forensic scientists is usually a determinant of the outcome of the court cases as the judges profoundly base their decisions on them. Therefore, the forensic scientist handling evidence should be aware that misinterpretation of observation or mishandling of evidence can ruin a case by making a guilty person walk free or destroying the life of lives of people that are innocent.

The evidence they provide should be free of error, mishandling, or manipulation for ethics and justice to prevail. Sometimes, because the evidence is handled by humans, it is subject to human error, but can also be deliberately manipulated for personal reasons. For this reason, the technicians should be people of integrity, and there is also a code of conduct to govern the behaviors and activities of the personnel in this profession. There are also refresher courses are offered to the professionals on a regular basis, and they are given current certification to prove they are in the right mind and body to carry on with their roles (Siegel & Mirakovits, 2010). People who fail to meet or maintain some of the values stipulated in the code are considered to be unfit to hold their positions.

Given that forensic scientists work for the government, they are usually given some medical and retirement benefits. Those that work at the state level have salaries amounting to $1900, while the ones with previous laboratory experience earn more, to about $3000 monthly. However, the salaries vary in different states, but experience can make them earn average annual salaries of $59000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report (Saferstein, 2011). The federal executives are the highest paid worker with salaries that average $97000, with the state of Arizona ranking highest in the number of job openings while the state of Illinois considered to the one paying the highest salaries.

ReferencesTop of Form

Siegel, J. A., & Mirakovits, K. (2010). Forensic science: The basics. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

Saferstein, R. (2011). Criminalistics: an introduction to forensic science (10th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.Bottom of Form