Forensic Science Glossary Flashcards


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1

American Academy of Forensic Sciences.

AAFS.

2

An injury to the skin that removes the epithelial layer.

Abrasion.

3

A flammable substance used to create and spread fire.

Accelerant.

4

Using physical evidence to recreate a crime or accident scene.

Accident Reconstruction.

5

A test to reveal the presence of seminal fluid, appearing purple when positive.

Acid Phosphate Test.

6

A waxy, soap-like substance that forms on corpses during decomposition under specific conditions; Also known as "grave wax".

Adipocere.

7

Automated Fingerprint Identification System.

AFIS.

8

Conditions which make a crime more serious.

Aggravating Circumstances.

9

The tendency of blood cells to clump together in reaction to an antibody.

Agglutination.

10

The reduction in body temperature after death.

Algor Mortis.

11

Any of multiple forms of a gene located at the same point on a particular pair of chromosomes.

Allele.

12

Any alternative source of light generally used for enhancing latent prints, biological fluid, and trace materials.

ALS (Alternative Light Source).

13

Prior to death.

Antemortem.

14

The science of the origin, culture, and development of human being. In forensics, this mainly involves the analysis and identification of skeletal remains.

Anthropology.

15

Devised by Alphonse Bertillon, a method of using a person's key body measurements as a means of identification.

Anthropometry.

16

A characteristic pattern of fingerprint ridges, possessed by approximately 5% of the population.

Arches.

17

Intentionally causing a fire to destroy the property in a criminal manner.

Arson.

18

Death caused by suffocation as a result of lack of oxygen and increase of carbon dioxide in the blood.

Asphyxia; Apnoea.

19

A method of analyzing gunshot residue.

Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy.

20

A death usually occurring from asphyxia produced by masturbatory rituals.

Autoerotic Accident.

21

The internal medical examination of a body used to determine the cause and circumstances of death.

Autopsy.

22

Also known as an autorad, this is the final product in DNA analysis, having a similar appearance of a barcode.

Autoradiograph.

23

The science of projectile, particularly bullets.

Ballistics.

24

The science of reading footprints in order to establish the pace, size, and body weight of the individual.

Barefoot Morphology.

25

Invented by Alphonse Bertillon, a now obsolete method of classifying human beings by a set of body measurements.

Bertillonage.

26

One of the four ways to categorize a person based on the antibodies and antigens in their red blood cells; A, B, AB, and O.

Blood Group.

27

The congestion of blood in the lowest areas of a dead body.

Blood Pooling.

28

The impact of blood on surfaces.

Blood Spatter.

29

The examination of blood spatter patterns to determine the events which took pace before, during and after the spilling of the blood.

Blood Spatter Pattern Analysis.

30

The interpretation of the shape, size, orientation, and distribution of bloodstains.

Bloodstain Interpretation.

31

The scientific study of plants; relevant to forensics in terms of plant matter found at a crime scene or on an item of evidence.

Botany.

32

Technology used to determine whether a brain registers a memory, particularly a criminal act.

Brainprint.

33

A swab taken from the mouth to collect epithelial cells for DNA analysis.

Buccal Swab.

34

The path a projectile takes as it passes through matter.

Bullet Track.

35

A dark, ring-like mark found around an entrance would, composed of lead, carbon oil and dirt.

Bullet Wipd.

36

The sudden rigidity of the muscles immediately after death.

Cadaveric Spasm.

37

The internal diameter of the gun barrel or bullet, expressed in hundredths of an inch.

Caliber.

38

The death sentence.

Capital Punishment.

39

A small cylinder of metal or pasteboard which holds a charge of powder and often a bullet.

Cartridge Case.

40

The discovery of links between cases which were previously thought to be unrelated.

Case Linkage.

41

Blood spatter produced when a bloodied object is pulled back from a blow.

Cast-Off Stains.

42

An injury or disease that ultimately leads to death of the individual, generally determined by medical examiners or coroners.

Cause of Death.

43

A method of keeping track of who has handled a piece of evidence, when, and for what purpose; Vital in ensuring evidence is not damaged or altered in any way.

Chain of Custody.

44

A personality disorder manifested in patterns of behavior.

Character Disorder.

45

The constriction of a shotgun barrel to reduce the spread of the shot, thus increasing its range.

Choke.

46

A technique used to separate a sample into its components based on the speed at which they move through a stationary matrix.

Chromatography.

47

A component found inside most human cells consisting of long coils of DNA; Humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes, one set inhered from each parent.

Chromosome.

48

Evidence from which a logical conclusion of a fact may be drawn.

Circumstantial Evidence.

49

The collarbone linking the scapula and sternum.

Clavicle.

50

The Combined DNA Index System, the FBI database of genetic information.

CODIS.

51

An unsolved case which is still open but no longer being actively investigated.

Cold Case.

52

Two compound microscopes combined into a single unit, allowing objects to be placed under each and viewed side by side through a single eyepiece.

Comparison Microscope.

53

A sketch composed of a suspect produced from one or more eyewitness description.

Composite Drawing.

54

A basic microscope composed of two lenses which focus a magnified image of the subject on the retina of the observer's eye.

Compound Microscope.

55

The application of computer technology and techniques to aid legal investigations.

Computer Forensics.

56

Patterns of cracks in glass pierced by a projectile such as a bullet which runs between the radial fractures.

Concentric Fractures.

57

A wound occurring when the firearm is fired whilst placed against a surface.

Contact Wound.

58

A soft hemorrhage from a blunt trauma.

Contusion.

59

A medical examiner or elected official who may, in some jurisdictions, lead a death investigation.

Coroner.

60

The essential body of facts that suggest a crime has occurred; From the Latin 'body of crime'.

Corpus Delicti.

61

The central portion of a hair containing the pigment which gives hair its color.

Cortex.

62

The use of evidence to determine the events which occurred at a crime scene.

Crime Scene Reconstruction.

63

The alteration of a crime scene in order to reduce its evidentiary value.

Crime Scene Staging.

64

The field of science applying science to law and criminal investigations.

Criminalistics.

65

The analysis of the crime scene and crime patterns to assign relevant characteristics to a perpetrator in order to aid law enforcement in narrowing the field of suspects.

Criminal Profiling.

66

The study of criminal activity and legal procedure.

Criminology.

67

The protective outer sheath of a hair, composed of a series of overlapping scales.

Cuticle.

68

A highly poisonous water-soluble chemical composed of carbon and nitrogen.

Cyanide.

69

The development and identification of fingerprints.

Dactyloscopy.

70

The disintegration of body tissues after death.

Decomposition.

71

A characteristic junction in a loop ridge fingerprint pattern.

Delta.

72

Equipment used for measuring the distribution of different particles in a soil sample by establishing the point at which they are suspended in a tube filled with layers of liquid of different densities.

Density Gradient Tube.

73

A test in which glass fragments are floated to establish if they are from the same source.

Density Test.

74

A casting material commonly used for making impressions of footprints and tires.

Dental Stone.

75

Microscopic algae found in bodies of water, beneficial in narrowing down the source of a water sample.

Diatom.

76

A psychological defense indicating the inability of an individual to understand the nature of a crime or to control their actions.

Diminished Capacity.

77

The separation of bone joints.

Disarticulation.

78

Deoxyribonucleic acid; the genetic material contained in cells.

DNA.

79

A composit of genetic markers uniquely characterizing an individual.

DNA Profile.

80

Creating a DNA fingerprint from a biological sample for use in comparison and the identification of an individual.

DNA Profiling.

81

Death caused by asphyxiation resulting from muscular paralysis brought on from the shock of the victim falling into the water.

Dry Drowning.

82

A device used to measure the electrical activity of the brain, converting the information into a readable report.

Electroencephalograph.

83

Electron Microscope

A microscope which uses a beam of electrons to focus a specimen.

84

A technique used to separate DNA fragments. The DNA is placed in a charged gel, the charge causing the fragments to move towards one pole at different rates.

Electrophoresis.

85

The scientific study of insect evidence to aid a legal investigation.

Entomology (Forensic).

86

Evidence that supports more than one theory.

Equivocal Evidence.

87

Any items, documents and statements that are included in a legal investigation for the jury's or judge's consideration in the determination of an individual's guilt or innocence.

Evidence.

88

An individual with a specialized knowledge of a certain field that can assist in the understanding of complicated information or offer an expert opinion.

Expert Witness.

89

The thighbone, the longest bone in the body. In anthropology, this may be measured and used as a guide to the height of the individual.

Femur.

90

A thin, threadlike material, often from some kind of fabric.

Fiber.

91

The unique pattern created by the ridges found on the palm side skin of fingers and thumbs.

Fingerprint.

92

A device in a gun which strikes the primer, igniting the projectile's propelling charge.

Firing Pin.

93

A corpse found in water, often floating due to the built up gas in the abdomen resulting from decomposition.

Floater.

94

The application of all forms of science to aid legal investigations.

Forensic Science.

95

An attempt to replicate the original item and pass it off as authentic.

Forgery

96

A pungent gas used asz a disinfectant, antiseptic, and fixative for tissues.

Formaldehyde.

97

A method of breaking down a compound into its individual components as they travel through a non-reactive gas.

Gas Chromatography.

98

A method used to divide a DNA sample into its components through the application of an electric charge.

Gel Electrophoresis.

99

The segment of DNA that codes for the production of a particular protein.

Gene.

100

The utilization of the geographic relationship between crime scenes to conclude any similarities or other points of interest.

Geographic Profiling.

101

The art of determining individual characteristic traits of a person based on his or her handwriting.

Graphology.

102

A crime scene searching pattern. The scene is segmented into smaller areas, each of which is individually searched for evidence.

Grid Search.

103

Also known as GSR; The unburned powder propelled from a gun when a bullet is fired. It will often be found on the clothing or skin of the shooter or victim.

Gun Shot Residue.

104

A presumptive blood testing tool.

Hemastix.

105

The protein in a red blood cell responsible for carrying the oxygen in the bloodstream.

Hemoglobin.

106

A severe bleed

Hemorrhage.

107

An individual who is continuously exposed to danger, such as drug users and prostitutes.

High-Risk Victim.

108

Homicide Investigation racking System, Washington State's database used to link violent crimes through signature analysis.

HITS.

109

The Home Office Large/Major Enquiry System; the UK's main police computer system.

HOLMES.

110

Murder, a death caused by another person.

Homicide.

111

A U-shaped bone at the base of the tongue which supports the tongue muscles.

Hyoid.

112

Also known as lividity; the pooling of blood at the lowest parts of the body; Usually commences between six and eight hours after death has occurred.

Hypostasis.

113

Decrease in oxygen to the brain.

Hypoxia.

114

A test which utilizes antibodies to identify and quantify substances.

Immunoassay.

115

The evidence left by anything that leaves a kind of impression at the scene or on an item, such as footprints, tire tracks, or tool marks.

Impression Evidence.

116

An impression left on paper caused by the force from a pen tip.

Indent.

117

A band of the electromagnetic spectrum which cannot be seen by the human eye.

Infrared.

118

A type of spectroscopy using infrared light.

Infrared Spectroscopy.

119

A substance that is not carbon-based.

Inorganic Compound.

120

The legal term for a mental disease or defect that may essentially absolve the person of responsibility.

Insanity.

121

A form of developing latent fingerprints using the fumes of iodine.

Iodine Fuming.

122

A device that detects the presence of accelerants in the air.

Ion Detector.

123

The specific numeric address of a computer.

IP Address.

124

The authority to exert power legally within a specific area.

Jurisdiction.

125

A presumptive blood test.

Kastle-Meyer Test.

126

A specialized evidence response team utilizing specially trained dogs to train certain scents, such as drugs, accelerants, and individuals.

K9.

127

The splitting or tearing of the skin.

Laceration.

128

The young of an insect prior to metamorphosis.

Larvae.

129

Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation; A device used to produce a beam of optical radiation by stimulation of electronic, ionic, or molecular transitions to create energy.

LASER.

130

A fingerprint left by deposits of the skin's oils, usually requiring some form of treatment in order to visualize it.

Latent Fingerprint.

131

An object used to bind or strangle someone.

Ligature.

132

Technology allowing the fingertips to be scanned rather than rolled in ink to obtain a fingerprint.

Livescan.

133

Every contact leaves a trace; A theory stating that anyone who enters a crime scene will leave something behind or take something away.

Locard's Exchange Principle.

134

A specific site on the chromosome.

Locus.

135

LCN; A new technique used to obtain a DNA profile from a fingerprint or small amount of tissue.

Low Copy Number.

136

A chemical reagent used to visualize latent blood stains.

Luminol.

137

The way in which death was caused; homicide, suicide, accidental, natural, or undetermined.

Manner of Death.

138

An individual who kills many people at the same time.

Mass Killer.

139

A method of identifying the components of a compound by bombarding the sample with electrons

Mass Spectrometry.

140

In some locations, the individual who runs a death investigation or performs autopsies.

Medical Examiner.

141

A method of identifying a sample by emitting a beam of electrons over the specimen and analyzing the election emissions created.

Microspectrophotometry.

142

Factors that may diminish the degree of guilt in a criminal offense, such as age or influence of drugs.

Mitigating Circumstances.

143

A form of DNA found in the mitochondria, indicating maternal heritage only.

Mitochondrial DNA.

144

Method of operation, from the Latin Modus Operandi; The method by which a crime is committed.

MO.

145

Also known as dissociative identity disorder; A psychological condition in which the individual appears to have two or more distinct personas.

Multiple Personality Disorder.

146

The desiccation of a body due to very hot and dry conditions, or exposure to very cold temperatures.

Mummification.

147

National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime; A subdivision of the FBI's Behavioral Science Unit.

NCAVC.

148

National DNA Database, the UK's database of DNA profiles.

NDNAD.

149

A technique used on trace evidence by bombarding the sample with neutrons in a nuclear reactor.

Neutron Activation Analysis.

150

The section of the cell containing the DNA and RNA.

Nucleus.

151

A file containing an individual's dental information.

Odontogram.

152

An individual specializing in dentistry, particularly bite mark impressions.

Odontologist.

153

The study of the teeth, including their anatomy, growth and diseases.

Odontology.

154

A solution used to determine whether a stain contains blood.

Orthotolidine.

155

The process by which bone is formed. A mesh of collagen fibers is formed, after which a polysaccharide is produced; finally, small calcium salt crystals are placed in this polysaccharide to form the bone.

Ossification.

156

A test used to determine whether a blood stain is of animal or human origin.

Ouchterlony Test.

157

The study of pollens.

Palynology.

158

A branch of medical science studying the cause, nature and effect of diseases.

Pathology.

159

Evidence which can be read from a specific pattern, such as a show impression.

Pattern Evidence.

160

The period of time immediately before death.

Perimortem.

161

A minute, pin-like hemorrhage that occurs beneath the skin.

Petechial Hemorrhage.

162

The measure of acidity or alkalinity of a substance.

pH.

163

A substance used alongside hydrogen peroxide which produces a deep pink color in the presence of blood.

Phenolphthalein.

164

A now discredited theory that believes the shape of an individual's head can indicate their personality.

Phrenology.

165

Any object relevant to the occurrence of a crime.

Physical Evidence.

166

The standard constituent of blood in which the various blood cells are carried.

Plasma.

167

A machine used to monitor bodily functions which may change when an individual lies; Not admissible in court.

Polygraph.

168

A long-chained molecule composed of many repeated units.

Polymer.

169

PCR; A technique that replicates a section of a DNA strand, allowing millions of copies to be produced from a minute sample.

Polymerase Chain Reaction.

170

A 19th century system for regularizing verbal descriptions of a suspect's facial features.

Portrait Parle.

171

After death.

Postmortem.

172

PMI; the time since death.

Postmortem Interval.

173

A test used to determine whether a blood sample is of animal or human origin, done so by the treatment of human anti-serum.

Precipitin Test.

174

The general relaxation of the entire muscular system after death; will usually only last between two to eight hours.

Primary Flaccidity.

175

A fragment of DNA which carried the complementary code for a base sequence.

Probe.

176

PSA; A substance in human seminal fluid used to confirm the presence of human semen.

Prostate Specific Antigen.

177

A method of gathering speculative information regarding a suspect's psychological makeup in order to aid the investigation.

Psychological Profile.

178

A device used to measure stress levels in a recorded voice.

Psychological Stress Evaluator.

179

A personality disorder defined by specific antisocial behavior and often including a lack of guilt or remorse.

Psychopathy.

180

An injury caused by the piercing of the body, often by a hand-held object.

Puncture Wound.

181

One of the final changes to take place in the human body, essentially the anaerobic bacterial digestion of the remains.

Putrefaction.

182

Any item containing writing that requires analysis to confirm the likes of authorship or authentication.

Questioned Documents.

183

A pattern formation in a fingerprint in which a loop forms and opens towards the thumb.

Radial.

184

Star-shaped fractures formed when a sheet of glass is pierced by a bullet, originating on the opposite side to the initial impact.

Radial Fractures.

185

The outer and shorter of the two human forearm bones.

Radius.

186

A collection of items used to process a rap victim for items of evidence that may indicate the perpetrator.

Rape Kit.

187

The measure of degree through which light passes through a particular substance.

Refractive Index.

188

The original method for obtaining a DNA profile, in which the molecule is cut into pieces and the different lengths analyzed.

Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism (RFLP).

189

The presence or absence of a particular antibody, allowing for further differentiation between blood of different individuals.

Rhesus Factor.

190

The endings, bifurcations, enclosures and similar ridge details in a fingerprint.

Ridge Characteristics.

191

The lands and grooves cut into the barrels of a gun.

Rifling.

192

The stiffening of the body after death due to a chemical reaction occurring in the muscles; Usually appears between two and eight hours after death, lasting between sixteen and twenty-four hours.

Rigor Mortis.

193

A process which may occur during putrefaction in which parts of the body are converted into adipocere.

Saponification.

194

A device which uses beams of electrons to form the image of a specimen.

Scanning Electron Microscope.

195

Used to store a scent for use with trailing dogs.

Scent Pad.

196

The characteristic shape of the part of the hipbone which may indicate the sex of a skeleton.

Sciatic Notch.

197

The secondary relaxation of the body's muscles following death.

Secondary Flaccidity.

198

Pertaining to semen.

Seminal.

199

Saw-like; Having a row of sharp, tooth-like projections.

Serrated.

200

Any type of crime occurring in a pattern indicating a single offender.

Serial Crime.

201

An individual who has murdered three or more people with a cooling-off period between.

Serial Killer.

202

The analysis of bodily fluids such as blood, saliva, and semen.

Serology.

203

A method used to obtain a DNA profile after replication through PCR has occurred. STRs are short sequences in the DNA molecule that repeat themselves at numerous points in the genome.

Short Tandem Repeats (STR).

204

A crime scene bearing the individual 'stamp' of a particular offender.

Signature Crime.

205

The sloughing off of the flesh on a cadaver.

Slippage.

206

The cracking of concrete in a fire, indicating how hot it burned.

Spalling.

207

The detection of wavelengths of light.

Spectrometry.

208

A search based on information rather than actual evidence.

Speculative Search.

209

An individual who murders numerous people with no cooling-off period in between.

Spree Killer.

210

Minute burn marks left by gunpowder as it leaves the gun, also known as tattooing.

Stippling.

211

The prevention of respiration by the compression of the air passage.

Strangulation.

212

Fine markings left behind on an item, such as on a bullet, caused by rifling in the barrel.

Striations.

213

A method of developing latent fingerprints using the fumes of cyanoacrylate or a similar substance, which adheres to the oils in the fingerprint, visualizing it.

Super Glue Fuming.

214

A file used to temporarily store information when a system's memory is low.

Swap File.

215

An adhesive used to lift trace evidence from a crime scene or object.

Tape Lift.

216

A technique used for separating a sample into its components based on the speed at which they move up a plate coated thinly with silica gel.

Thin-Layer Chromatography.

217

The shin bone, commonly used to calculate the height of an individual's skeletal remains.

Tibia.

218

Obtaining an X ray image of a selected layer in an object.

Tomography.

219

The study of drugs, poisons and their effects on the body.

Toxicology.

220

Minute pieces of evidence found at the crime scene, including fiber, hair, glass, seed, and soil.

Trace Evidence.

221

The path of a fired projectile.

Trajectory.

222

A physical injury caused by external violence.

Trauma.

223

A loop pattern in a fingerprint which opens towards the little finger.

UV light, used to fluoresce various substances, including urine, saliva and semen.

224

One of the twenty-four segments of the human spinal column.

Vertebrae.

225

Violent Criminal Apprehension Program, the FBI's nationwide data information center.

ViCAP.

226

The study of victim information in order to obtain details of a perpetrator's opportunity and selection process.

Victimology.

227

The temperature of the internal organs, particularly those within the abdomen and thorax.

Visceral Temperature.

228

The fluid filling the eyeball; This changes after death, potentially being useful in determination of the post-mortem interval.

Vitreous Humor.

229

A graph electronically composed of the amplitude and vibrations of the human voice.

Voiceprint.

230

A pattern within a fingerprint in which the ridge makes at least complete circuit.

Whorls.

231

The effect of an individual's body fat feeds a smoldering flame, burning the person to ash without surrounding items being burned.

Wick Effect.

232

The third molar teeth, usually erupting in the late teens to early twenties.

Wisdom Teeth.