Crime scene investigations involves employing forensic science tools, procedures, and processes to investigate a crime scene and the collection of forensic evidence.
Forensic science, more commonly known as forensics, is the application of sciences to answer questions of interest to a legal system. Forensics may be used to answer questions in relation to a crime or a civil action. Forensics encompasses the accepted scholarly or scientific methodology and norms under which the facts regarding an event, or an artifact, or some other physical item (such as a corpse) is ascertained as being the case. The concept, therefore, is related to the notion of authentication, whereby an interest outside of a legal form exists in determining whether an object is what it purports to be, or is alleged as being.
The word forensic comes from the Latin adjective forensis, meaning “of or before the forum.” In Roman times, a criminal charge meant presenting the case before a group of public individuals in the forum. Both the person accused of the crime and the accuser would give speeches based on their side of the story.
The individual with the best argument and delivery would determine the outcome of the case. This origin is the source of the two modern usages of the word as a form of legal evidence and as a category of public presentation.
Private investigators with specialized training and education may engage in various forms of forensic investigations such as:
- Forensic accounting
- Forensic computer software examination and analysis
- Document examinations
- Crime scene investigations
Following are resources for conducting investigations in this area:
- American Academy of Forensic Science – The American Academy of Forensic Science is a professional society devoted to the application of forensic science and law
- American Board of Forensic Odontology – Comprised of individuals who are national and world renowned experts. The ABFO is recognized by the American Academy of Forensic Sciences as a specialty that offers board certification to its members.
- American Board of Forensic Toxicologists – The objective of the Board is to establish, enhance, and revise as necessary, standards of qualification for forensic toxicology, and to certify as qualified specialists those voluntary applicants who comply with the requirements of the Board.
- American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors – The ASCLD organization is dedicated to providing excellence in science analysis through leadership in the management of forensic science
- American Society of Questioned Document Examiners – The purposes of the Society is to foster education, sponsor scientific research, establish standards, exchange experience, and provide instruction in the field of questioned document examination, and to promote justice in matters that involve questions about documents.
- American Psychological Association – Based in Washington, DC, the American Psychological Association (APA) is a scientific and professional organization that represents psychology in the United States. With more than 150,000 members, APA is the largest association of psychologists worldwide.
- American Psychiatric Association – The American Psychiatric Association is a medical specialty society recognized world-wide. Its over 35,000 U.S. and international member physicians work together to ensure humane care and effective treatment for all persons with mental disorders, including mental retardation and substance-related disorders. It is the voice and conscience of modern psychiatry. Its vision is a society that has available, accessible quality psychiatric diagnosis and treatment.
- Annual Reviews – Annual Reviews publishes authoritative, analytic reviews in 37 focused disciplines within the Biomedical, Life, Physical, and Social Sciences. Annual Reviews publications are among the most highly cited in scientific literature. Annual Reviews offers publications in print and online to individuals, institutions, and consortia throughout the world.
- American Academy of Forensic Psychology – The education and training arm of the American Board of Forensic Psychology (ABFP), which is responsible for the diplomating process in forensic psychology.
- Association for Crime Scene Reconstruction– Association that encourages the exchange of information and procedures useful in the reconstruction of criminal locations.
- Ballistics– Information and links to ballistics websites and articles.
- Becoming a CS Investigator– Provides an idea of the variety of responsibilities a CSI expert will have and the minimum requirements to apply for a job.
- Canadian Psychological Association – The Canadian Psychological Association was organized in 1939 to improve the health and welfare of all Canadians; to promote excellence and innovation in psychological research, education, and practice; to promote the advancement, development, dissemination, and application of psychological knowledge; and to provide high-quality services to members.
- Crime & Clues – Articles on the art and science of criminal investigation, covering numerous types of evidence including fingerprint, physical, testimonial, and behavioral.
- Crime Scene Clean-up– Group that is dedicated to helping to compassionately, safely and discreetly restore a scene to a safe state.
- Crime Scene Investigation Supplies– Provides a wide selection of tools, equipment and supplies.
- Crime Scene Processing Protocol– Article on the protocol for processing a location.
- Evidence Collection– Evidence collection resources and evidence collection reference guides and manuals.
- Fingerprinting– A collection of links and information on fingerprinting to be used in lifting prints.
- Forensic Accounting Books – A collection of books available on Amazon.com
- Forensic Investigation Books – A list of books available from Amazon.com on the subject.
- How Crime Scene Investigations Work– An article from HowStuffWorks.com that provides an overview of the process followed in this type of investigative work.
- International Crime Scene Investigators Association– Assists law enforcement personnel who are involved in this line of duty.
- International Homicide Investigators Association– Assists and supports law enforcement agencies and death investigation professionals by providing leadership, training, resources, and expertise that will enhance their ability to solve cases.
- Introduction to Forensic Firearms Identification – Sometimes incorrectly referred to as ballistics, firearms identification has as its primary concern the identification of fired ammunition components (bullets, cartridge cases) to a specific firearm.
- National Forensic Science Technical Center– A not-for-profit corporation funded by a Cooperative Agreement with the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) and provides programs that build individual competency and quality systems for the forensic science community in the United States.
- Unshredder – Unshredder is a simple program that unleashes the power of a desktop computer to reduce the time consumed by investigators reconstructing shredded documentary evidence. Until now the only alternative to manual processing was to engage a third party to process the work on computers at their premises. By comparison to external processing of the evidence Unshredder reduces the turnaround time, keeps full control of the investigation in-house and there is less risk of a security risk or loss of the evidence. The original shreds remain unchanged from the process and the integrity of the original is captured electronically to be printed or dispatched electronically by wire or disc.
CSI Books: Learn How to Gather and Process Evidence
Crime scene investigations are usually handled by qualified law enforcement specialists. However, private investigators may be hired by private parties to conduct their own investigation into the facts of the case. Private eyes who are skilled at investigating crime scenes can sometimes find information or clues that the police don’t notice. A private investigator’s persistence and eye for detail may lead to solving the case. Having a library of crime scene investigation books is helpful for any investigator that wants to develop the skill of investigating criminal locations. These books will help a P.I learn how to:
- How to secure a crime scene and conduct an in-depth and thorough investigation
- Collect Forensic evidence and photographs
- How to collect evidence such as fingerprints, hair, blood, stages of body decay, and other fibers
- How to identify, trace and analyze evidence from firearms and explosives
- How to secure, store, and analyze data gathered to help solve the mystery
- How to document and report evidence and information found during a forensic analysis
- How to pursue a career in the field, where to look for jobs and how to get a CSI job
The Forensic Casebook
This book covers a series of true stories about how criminal behavior is investigated, solved and the criminals were captured with the help of information, data, and forensic evidence gathered from the scene of the violation. The reference book is based on a series of interviews with police and forensic specialists. The guide also discusses potential jobs and career paths related to criminal science.
Techniques of Crime Scene Investigation, Eighth Edition (Forensic and Police Science)
This is a great manual for private investigators, technicians, and forensic scientists to learn how to apply both science and technology to collect evidence. This helpful guide reviews the concepts, techniques and procedures involved with criminal investigation. Learn about the latest in forensic DNA collection and lab testing, digital evidence, photography, and evidence processing.
Crime Scene Investigation, Second Edition
This textbook takes the reader from the point of first arriving on the scene to presenting physical evidence and data in the court room. You’ll find information that is not normally covered in other CSI books, including photographs, illustrations and real-life examples. Also helpful is an extensive glossary of key terms and discussion questions.
Practical Crime Scene Processing and Investigation (PRACTICAL ASPECTS OF CRIMINAL & Forensic INVESTIGATIONS)
This forensic book focuses on the practical aspects and processing the evidence. This guide explains what an actual forensic scene investigator does in their day-to-day work, including the procedures and steps that are typically involved in the process. Also included is an overview of the theory involved and the ethical side of things. Includes discussions, detailed data, and real-life examples to help private detectives learn how to apply the tools to their investigations.
Buy these and other Books at Amazon.com.
Hire a Private Investigator
Many private investigators specialize in crime scene investigations, and many have former experience as a police officer. To hire a private investigator that specializes in this type of work, please visit our Private Investigator Directory.