“Time is what you lack in any study. Evidence disappears one hour at a time. People and the environment can damage crime scenes. Things are shuffled, relocated, changed, and smeared. Organisms decay. Contaminants and dust are blown by the wind. Memories deteriorate with time. You go further from the problem as you get away from the problem.” (Maureen Johnson)
The aforementioned passage, which is taken from Maureen Johnson’s book “really devious,” may help explain why technological development in the area of criminal investigation is essential. It can assist in situations where a case cannot be resolved for a long time due to a lack of evidence, as well as in accurately and quickly resolving criminal cases. All you need is a promising lead. In this article, we’ll discuss how criminology and the criminal justice system might benefit from scientific development to better answer investigative inquiries. This field is referred to as “forensic criminology.”
Consider a scene of a crime. Blood on the floor, stuff scattering, and a dead body lying there. A person has been charged with the offense. He also disputes that. Now, several inquiries come up at this point. What might have caused the accused to kill the victim? How did he kill him? Is there any proof that the accused committed the crime? What was his mental state and what happened? At this point, criminology begins to play a role in determining the specifics and causes of the crime. On the other hand, science assists in drawing a connection between the facts and the evidence, delivering accurate, trustworthy, and objective information. Consequently, forensics and criminology are integral to criminal justice.
It is undeniable that society is undergoing significant technological change, and along with these developments, criminals have improved their methods of concealment. Additionally, since everyone has access to smartphones and the internet nowadays, the typical person has a greater understanding of science and technology. Researching many ways to commit a crime without being discovered is simple with the internet. The use of the dark web for illicit activity is even more worrisome because no information is left behind.
The development of technology has lowered the barrier to crime. However, the same hands might also aid in the crime investigation. A tool for better criminal investigation and justice administration, forensic science is made up of a variety of ideas, including biology, sociology, criminal psychology, DNA profiling, physics, chemistry, fluid analysis, handwriting analysis, and computer science.
HOW CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION USES FORENSIC SCIENCE?
The three fundamental principles of individuality, exchange, and progressive change form the foundation of forensic sciences. The principle of individuality states that every object, whether natural or manufactured, has a unique identity that sets it apart from other things and prevents duplication. DNA and fingerprint are two crucial examples of this concept. In a variety of criminal proceedings, fingerprints have served as evidence.
In State v. Karugope (A.I.R. 1954 Pat. 131), the Patna High Court ruled that the fingerprint expert’s assessment was adequate proof of guilt.
Exchange principle: Edmond Locard established this principle by noting that “contact exchanges traces. It simply suggests that the offender either leaves his traces after a crime has been committed or picks them up. In situations where a weapon is used, it leaves its mark on the victim’s body. If the two parties get into a physical altercation, the perpetrator may leave DNA traces on the victim’s fingernail or hair strands. The relationship between the victim, offender, and evidence is established by forensic science.
Ballistic fingerprinting connects the bullet casings to the weapon used to fire them. Used condom sperm aids in the capture of the rapist. It is possible to match the suspect’s teeth to bite marks on the body. In situations where a weapon wasn’t available, the type of wound can reveal the type of weapon that was used. Blood, footprints, narcotics, and just much any other material found at a crime scene can be used to infer information. Most likely, everything in criminal inquiry talks, not just the deceased.
Principle of progressive change: As implied by its name, this theory holds that everything undergoes progressive change over time. Time affects everyone and everything, including the offender and the evidence. Handle everything that might be proof extremely carefully. Blood samples, semen, hair strands, and fingerprints, for instance, must all be carefully obtained and inspected as quickly as possible to preserve their integrity and produce an accurate report. The sample’s quality must be preserved.
Other general principles of forensic sciences exist in addition to these three, such as the laws of analysis, comparison, and probability. According to these laws, a proper sample must be taken and examined, a sample should be compared to other similar samples, and all occurrences, whether they be certain or uncertain, are probable in nature.
THE FUTURE OF CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION AND FORENSIC SCIENCE
Future developments in forensic methodology have the potential to be extremely beneficial. Even though today’s forensic analysis is not perfect, future years may bring about more advanced methods. The criminal court system will see some significant advancements thanks to DNA analysis. Let’s look at some of the forensic technologies that will be quite useful in the future.
- DNA phenotyping will bring about significant change in the field of forensics. This method enables the creation of a person’s portrait just from a DNA sample. Physical characteristics including skin color, hair color, height, eye color, face shape, and occasionally even weight are determined by genes. Numerous characteristics of a person are stored in their DNA, which experts claim might even reveal a person’s geographic ancestry. However, DNA does not carry certain characteristics of the human body. DNA phenotyping is still being studied, and if its validity is shown, it will represent a significant advancement in criminal investigation.
- Sperm degradation in a used condom: A man’s sperm contains DNA. Therefore, it is possible to determine the time the rape occurred using the DNA contained in a used condom.
- Bacterial signatures: Studies are being done on the bacterial traces that individuals leave behind on many surfaces, including the air we breathe. According to scientific investigations, everyone-specific bacteria live in large numbers in human bodies. These bacterial samples can be extracted from the suspect’s faces and compared to traces discovered at the murder scene.
- Fingerprints: Since a very long time ago, people have been recognized by their fingerprints. However, there have been instances where they have resulted in erroneous convictions, suggesting that they are not perfect. Recent research, however, has revealed that several chemicals, including proteins and fats that are consumed as part of a person’s diet, are secreted by the fingertips. In the future, these objects might also be able to reveal the nutrition of the person whose prints are being studied. However, investigators aren’t currently employing such cutting-edge techniques.
Based on the discussion above, it can be concluded that DNA will play a significant role in forensic sciences in the future. In many parts of the body, DNA is present. It can be extracted from samples of blood, skin tissue, saliva, semen, nails, hair, and more.
Additionally, DNA evidence is helpful in situations where there are several suspects. In the future, computers and artificial intelligence might be able to determine everything about a suspicious area or person without the need for an eye witness based on location and other personal information, in addition to DNA. Future developments in forensics and artificial intelligence might be able to precisely determine who should be suspected and who shouldn’t.
There will still be many difficulties even though these developments will provide a roadmap for criminal investigations. Only professionals can determine if a technique has been followed correctly or incorrectly since judges lack the necessary depth of scientific understanding. These problems influence the court’s decision to take a conservative stance. Forensic science is a valuable instrument for criminal investigations, but it can only be used to its full potential if both the investigating police and the judges understand and value it as such.
- Jus Corpus [Online][Cited: 9 September 2022] https://www.juscorpus.com/the-criminology-of-the-future-how-science-helps-us-to-examine-crimes/．
- Legal 60 [Online][Cited: 9 September 2022] https://legal60.com/the-criminology-of-the-future-how-science-helps-us-to-investigate-crimes/
- Legalbites [Online][Cited: 9 September 2022] https://www.legalbites.in/criminology-of-the-future/．
This article is written by Kanika Arora from Delhi Metropolitan Education (Affiliated to GGSIPU).