What is forensic? Definition and examples
Forensic as an adjective means related to courts of law or used in courts of law. As an adjective, it can also mean suitable for public debate or discussion. The adjective may also refer to applying scientific or technical knowledge to legal problems. As a noun, it means scientific techniques or tests people carry out in connection with the detection of criminal activity. When it is a noun, we usually use the term in the plural form, i.e., forensics.
Forensics (plural noun) also means substances or objects that an expert examines scientifically. Specifically, objects or substances related to a crime, as in: “The forensics suggest that Mary is guilty.”
US Legal has the following definition of the term:
“Forensic evidence is evidence obtained by scientific methods such as ballistics, blood test, and DNA test and used in court.”
“Forensic evidence often helps to establish the guilt or innocence of possible suspects.”
Etymology of forensic
Etymology is the study of where words came from, i.e., their origins. It is also the study of the history of the meanings of words.
According to etymonline.com, the term emerged in the English language in the 1650s. At the time, it meant ‘pertaining to or suitable for courts of law.’
The English word comes from the Latin word Forensis, which means ‘of a forum, place of assembly.’ The Latin word is related to Forum, ‘public place.’
It was not until 1845 that the English word also meant ‘pertaining to legal trials.’
Forensic science means the application of science to law, i.e., either civil or criminal laws. However, we mainly use it in criminal situations. It is a science we use during a criminal investigation.
Scientists gather, preserve, and analyze scientific evidence during, for example, a criminal investigation.
Some experts go to the scene of the crime to collect evidence. Others, however, remain in the laboratory and analyze objects that others bring to them.
These scientists may also have to testify in court as expert witnesses in either criminal or civil cases. They may work either for the defense or prosecution.
Forensic science subdivisions
There are dozens of subdivisions, including art forensics, digital forensics, forensic accounting, and forensic botany.
Forensic accountants, the detectives of the financial world, for example work in white collar criminal cases. White collar refers to jobs in which the person does non-manual work, i.e., office work. Fraud is an example of a white-collar crime.
Forensic medicine, a subdivision of forensic science, is a branch of medicine. It deals with the application of medical knowledge to establish facts in criminal and legal cases.
For example, experts may try to determine how long a person has been dead.
Forensic engineering is all about trying to determine what went wrong with a machine, structure, component, or material.
Computer or cyber forensics involves using investigation and analysis techniques to collect and preserve evidence from a computer. People do this so that they can present their findings in a court of law.
We also use the term ‘digital forensics‘ when talking about the recovery and investigation of material in digital devices.
Experts in this field go after, for example, hackers. Hackers are people who gain access to computers illegally. They gain access by breaking password codes without authorization.
Interpol says that cyber crime is a rapidly-growing area of crime. We can also write it as one word, i.e., cybercrime.
More and more criminals are taking advantage of the speed, anonymity, and convenience of the Internet to commit crimes.
According to TechTarget:
“The goal of computer forensics is to perform a structured investigation while maintaining a documented chain of evidence to find out exactly what happened on a computing device and who was responsible for it.”