Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Real CSI: Forensic Toxicology Clinches Cases

When people hear the word “forensics,” the image that most likely pops up in their mind is that of the scientist-detectives of the popular CSI show. However, the pop culture image is far from the truth. Crime scene investigators do exist, but what they mostly do is gather the evidence. The bulk of the real crime-solving is done inside the laboratories.

Most of the heavy lifting is done by specialists in forensic toxicology. They are the ones who help identify any foreign substances found in the scene of the crime. This expert knowledge is why many forensic toxicologists are called to the stand during trials; their expertise can help prove the guilt or innocence of a defendant.

An example of a case where forensic toxicology greatly helps is in drunk-driving cases, wherein knowing the precise level of alcohol in a person’s blood can ultimately determine the verdict. Another use for it is to identify if someone has recently used illegal drugs.

Testimony from an expert forensic toxicologist can also help lawsuits against companies that have endangered people because of their illegal practices. Tests would determine if pollutants can be found in the local drinking water or if a contractor has used too much asbestos in a construction project. When proof beyond reasonable doubt is needed, the scientific results of a toxicology test are hard to beat.

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