Forensic Toxicology - Hard Evidence for Legal Cases by environdiseases


									Forensic Toxicology - Hard Evidence for
Legal Cases
By: Scott Alexander

                                                    The Basics of Forensic Toxicology

                                                     The thrill and mystery of real life crime has sparked
                                                     the creation of dozens of detective and crime
                                                     programs on television. Many of the aspects of these
                                                     shows are completely fictional, but some events from
                                                     these crime-cathching story lines are based on actual
                                                     procedures. You may be familiar with what an
                                                     autopsy is, and how police trace DNA from crime
                                                     scene investigations. You may also know that
detectives can uncover any trace of drugs that a victim or suspect may have touched. They learn this
from what is collectively known as forensic toxicology, which is a real professional discipline that can
make a huge impact during criminal trials. This article is going to briefly discuss how forensic toxicology
is used in real legal ways.

Forensic Science

Toxicology is a forensic science. This means that something is being studied scientifically for legal
purposes. Forensic science includes any of the following methods used for lawful reasons: brain studies,
autopsies, fingerprint scanning, DNA testing, disease diagnosis, blood work, and drug usage. If you've
ever seen a crime scene secluded with yellow tape, it is because the entire area can be examined with
forensic science if it is not contaminated by outside influences.

Definition of Toxicology

Toxicology is the study of how one or more of the following substances interacts with the body: drugs,
alcohol, chemicals, poison, and medications. Sometimes toxicology is following how substances react
with chemicals already in the body and brain. Other times, experts can examine what is going on in the
blood and organ system to determine which drugs or chemicals are in the system.
Science as Evidence

After a forensic toxicologist finishes any experiments or tests requested by a legal party, he can use that
information as evidence. Detectives and lawyers can question this doctor about the results of any tests
because the toxicologist is considered an expert witness. They can speak about whether they believe
their scientific results are incriminating, or maybe if a certain event is probable. The cause of a
mysterious death can easily be narrowed down using evidence discovered with forensic science. Any
discussion of a toxicological screen can be used in a court of law to help determine innocence or guilt.


If you've ever watched Julia Robert's in Erin Brockovich, you may be aware that this was based on a true
story. Hundreds of individuals of a small town named Hinkley were diagnosed with cancer and suffering
form various diseases and sickness. Miss Brockovich used evidence from an epidemiologist who cited
that these sick people had all ingested a chromium poison that was found in the water supply. This
influenced the largest settlement in class action history in the U.S.

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