Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Forensic Toxicology: The Need for Expert Witnesses

Dealing with mysterious criminal cases requires forensic science to obtain fact-based evidence. All evidence has to be carefully examined by a forensic toxicologist, a professional who has vast knowledge of chemicals and their effects on physical matter. A forensic toxicologist in this scenario becomes an expert witness and his opinion can serve either the defense or the prosecution.

Criminal lawyers need the services of forensic toxicologists in procuring scientific evidence of their clients’ claims. They cannot simply perform their own scientific research and present their findings in court as evidence.

However, producing evidence through forensic science is not that simple. Lack of sufficient experience in handling different types of cases may yield fallible findings and lead to wrongful convictions (or acquittals). The hired forensic toxicologist who will examine the evidence must have extensive knowledge and experience in handling urine, blood, and oral samples. Inexperienced toxicologists may not be comfortable handling such samples and their health might be at risk.

Forensic toxicology must support the truth, not cover it up. Basic ethics in this field state that all forensic toxicologists must present opinions based on correctly performed tests and thoroughly interpreted data. Furthermore, their statements should be easy to understand by a non-scientific listener to prevent misconceptions or misinterpretations. 

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