Forensic Scientist Job Description

There are many different applications of forensic science, and a number of disciplines fall under the umbrella of forensic science. In general, though, a forensic scientist is best known for the role they play in the justice system. They are responsible for collecting, identifying, classifying and analyzing physical evidence involved in criminal investigations. Many are specially trained to perform tests on weapons or substances, which include but are not limited to hair, tissue, fibers (e.g. clothing) and body fluids to find out how the presence of these substances could be significant to an investigation.
Many forensic scientists specialize in a specific area, like ballistics (analyzing bullets and other projectiles and their impact), fingerprinting, handwriting, biochemistry or DNA analysis.

Forensic scientists are often called upon to testify as expert witnesses when it comes to evidence or crime lab techniques. This requires the forensic scientist to be able to break down scientific jargon into everyday language for the lay person and explain complex chemical reactions, medical conditions and scientific instruments so they can be more easily understood.

Forensic scientists have the weighty responsibility of properly collecting, storing and protecting evidence. They follow chain-of-custody regulations, which help ensure evidence is not tampered with, requiring that a time, date, location and signature are given any time a piece of evidence is transported into or out of a lab.

Once a forensic scientist has examined the evidence, they prepare a report to document their findings and observations. These findings are vital, since they can be used to put a criminal behind bars or set an innocent person free who had previously been accused of a crime.

The goal of the forensic scientist is always the impartial use all evidence available to discover the raw facts in a case, and subsequently, the truth, according to the American Academy of Forensic Sciences.

A forensic scientist may provide their valuable information and expert opinions to investigators, lawyers, judges and juries. Their findings may serve either the defense or the prosecution, as they are unbiased. Forensic scientists may work closely and in conjunction with other experts, like medical examiners, who determine cause of death. They also work closely with police officers, sheriff’s deputies, prosecutors, defense attorneys, FBI, CIA and DEA agents, immigration workers and crime scene investigators.

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