Crime in America is increasing rapidly and many techniques have been created over the years in order to solve major crimes. Forensics science is one of the many techniques that have been created. Forensics is the use of science and technology to investigate and establish facts in criminal courts of law (free-dictionary, n. d). But there is an upcoming issue which involves the exaggerated details of forensics science.
This paper explores the CSI Effect, compares and contrasts criminalistics which involves the nature of the crime and criminology which is the study of the criminal behavior, explores how criminalistics and criminology is fictionally portrayed in the media and how the CSI Effect influences the public and impacts actual criminal justice. Forensics is the application of science to find clues and solve crimes. There are many areas of forensics such as: forensic toxicology, genetic fingerprinting, and forensic pathology.
Most of the forensic scientists are investigators that pick up clues at the crime scene. Criminals usually leave behind evidence that allow an investigator to track them (MegaEssays, 2011). This all contributes to the criminalistics aspects of forensics. Criminalistics is the recognition, identification, and the evaluation of physical evidence by applying the laws of science and natural science (WriteWork, 2004). They identify physical evidence and find its origin.
Criminalistics differs greatly from the criminology aspect of forensic because criminology deals with the relationship between the criminal and society. It comes up with theories to explain how society functions with crime; it is possible for individuals to understand some different stances on how crime is created in a society and how a society may influence an individual’s decision to commit a particular crime (ArticlesBase, 2010). In today’s society there are many TV shows which capture and get into the minds of its viewers.
They reel you in, in order for you to gain some perspective into a criminal’s mind. These shows also allow you to get the play by play of the whole investigation in nearly 1 hour when in reality the criminal justice system is absolutely nothing like how it is portrayed on TV. We are all now victims of the CSI Effect. The CSI Effect is a phenomenon reported by prosecutors who claim that television shows based on scientific crime solving have made actual jurors reluctant to vote to convict when forensic evidence is neither necessary nor available (Nolo, 2011).
The criminalistics and criminology aspects are especially exaggerated; most evidence that is shown is not as clear in real life. Fingerprints of victims are not as easily marked or proven. DNA evidence which requires certain equipment/technology in the lab, is usually too expensive, and isn’t even something you would see in most crime labs. Crimes are also not as traceable as they seem on TV. Many crime scenes take up to week’s sometimes even months to get all of the evidence and process it.
The CSI Effect is influencing the public because the more popular those crime shows get the number of student majors in forensics science has increased rapidly. They are interested in the fast pace quick higher level learning skills that they portray in the TV only to learn that it is nothing like how it is on TV. The CSI Effect is also affecting the real world of criminal justice because it creates unreasonable expectations in the minds of jurors (Hoffmeister, 2011). They want and expect scientific evidence linking the defendant to the crime (Hoffmeister, 2011).
The CSI Effect has impacted trials throughout the nation. The most infamous trial of the decade would most definitely be the Casey Anthony trial. This was the accusation of 22 year old Casey Anthony who was being charged with the murder of her 2 year old daughter Caylee Anthony and dumping the body in the woods near her parent’s home on Suburban Drive. In the case they found gargantuan amounts of evidence in the trial. Some examples are: the child Caylee was last seen with her mother, Caylee’s remains were wrapped in items all from the Anthony home.
There is a strong possibility that the “CSI” effect was a factor. There were arguably several instances during the trial where the lack of forensic evidence could have led the jury to have reasonable doubt about the prosecution’s case such as the findings of Caylee’s 9″ long mitochondrial DNA matched hair which was found in trunk of car. They were unable to determine how 2-year-old Caylee Anthony died. Jurors understand when a body is missing but have difficulty accepting that science is unable to determine the cause of death (Hoffmeister, 2011).
Casey Anthony’s DNA was ot on the duct tape that prosecutors said were used to suffocate Caylee Anthony. They consider DNA to be the gold standard of evidence, and when it is not present, questions arise (Hoffmeister, 2011). Lastly the jurors felt as if they should have been able to place Casey Anthony to where her daughter’s body was found because of technology advancements that we now have today. This case was built on circumstantial evidence in which there was no forensic evidence directly linking Casey Anthony to her daughter’s death (Hoffmeister, 2011). She was found not guilty.
Another case that has been said to have been impacted by the CSI Effect is the trial of Robert Durst, a millionaire real estate heir who was accused of murdering a man named, Morris Black. It was a case in which investigators never found Black’s head. The defense claimed that wounds to the head might have supported Durst’s story that he had killed Black in self-defense (Willing, 2004).
They hired a man named Robert Hirschorn who was hired to pick jurors for the case picked jurors who were familiar with shows such as CSI and Law and Order. Robert Durst was acquitted and released. Prosecutors, defense lawyers and lawyers argued that they fostered a mistaken notion that criminal science is fast and always gets the bad guy which is affecting the way lawyers prepare their cases,