The CSI Effect: The Use Of Forensics

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The CSI Effect has been caused by the popular television show "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" and has given viewers an unrealistic view regarding forensic scientists, the use of forensics, and the criminal investigation itself.

Forensics has become a rapidly growing field and has only been applied to criminal investigations since the latter part of the nineteenth century. The earliest use of forensics can be traced back to the Bertillion System created by Alphonse Bertillion of the Paris Police Department. He believed that certain skeletal features and physical traits could help identify individuals. Bertillion would use several photographs of individuals to help aid the identification process. Another use was that of fingerprints which was first used by William
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Despite the television show's portrayal of trace evidence and other physical evidence being left behind at every crime scene, this is not the case in every criminal investigation. In fact, many criminal investigations yield no evidence that can be forensically tested. This means the investigator must gather information from the crime scene such as witness statements, victim statements, possible suspects including those who are seen fleeing, as well as any physical evidence.The investigator must also follow any leads gathered from victim and witness statements. While in CSI the investigator always catches the criminal within an hour, a criminal investigation may take days, weeks, months and even years before being solved. Sometimes a criminal investigation may not produce any further leads causing the case to be set aside. This is why the investigator utilizes twelve essential questions to guide the investigation and determine the solvability of the case. This is also why the investigator works closely with prosecutors to determine the solidity of a case and whether to bring the suspect to

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