A Forensic Investigator is basically an Investigator that establishes evidence for litigation based on scientific methods. The Forensic Investigator can examine and establish both physical evidence and digital evidence.
Science + The Justice System = Forensics
The evidence that a Forensic Investigator produces is to be utilized in litigation, both civil and criminal. This means that a Forensic Investigator can be in the employ of a government organization such as law enforcement or employed in the private sector. Both types of Forensic Investigators will often produce their evidence in litigation as “expert witnesses.”
A simple example of forensics can be seen with fingerprint matching or even matching a footprint pattern. A Forensic Investigator can establish a connection from an incident to an individual based on their fingerprint or shoe print and its discovery at a location. The Forensic Investigator can testify as an expert witness on how they connected the patterns to the individual that is the "subject" of the litigation. This can go even further, with the Forensic Investigator establishing connections using DNA or chemistry. In fact, there are thousands of methods Forensic Investigators can utilize to establish connections to individuals based on physical science.
Along with physical evidence, digital evidence can also be established using forensics. A Digital Forensic Investigator can discover connections to individuals based on on-line digital footprints. Furthermore, digital evidence can be found on devices utilized by individuals. This is important in cases were individuals use devices for computer crimes, such as identity fraud.
The Scientific Method
Regardless of the form of evidence, both physical or digital, Forensic Investigators will establish the evidence based on the Scientific Method: observation will lead to research then to a hypothesis. This will lead to testing and eventually a report that will be used in litigation, often with the Forensic Investigator testifying in a formal legal setting.
Common Forensic Investigative Fields or Specialties
Accounting forensics: Tracing the flow of money and discovering financial impropriety
Anthropology forensics: Identifying human remains that are past the decomposition of organic material except bone.
Blood forensics: Determining a sequence of events based on blood found at crime scenes
Chemistry forensics: This is used most often for the classification of narcotics
Computer forensics: Used when software plays a part in a crime
Document forensics: Examination and verification of documents to prove authenticity
DNA forensics: Used frequently in the private sector to verify biological family relationships
Engineering failure forensics: Identifying the cause of engineering failures when they result in a criminal casualty, such as negligence
Fingerprint forensics: Providing or confirming the identity of individuals based on their fingerprints
Pathology: Determining cause of death
Toxicology: Examining foreign chemicals in the human body
Photo and video analysis: Evaluating the authenticity of photos and videos
About the Author
Peter is an Instructor & Co-Founder of NDIL with over 14 years as an Investigator. Peter Sandru has spent more than a decade conducting investigations and security operations throughout the world, primarily for corporations, law firms, and government agencies. Peter has assisted in the creation of numerous investigative & security training programs in various capacities. Peter has helped many students with no PI experience get hired and become Investigators.