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. Examples 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.
Pages to are hidden for
"Forensic Toxicology - Hard Evidence for Legal Cases"Please download to view full document