Peacock Scholarship

Chemical Fingerprinting in Forensic Science

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The evolving field of forensic science continues to incorporate new technologies and new procedures with the passing of time. As our scientific knowledge expands, we seek to apply this knowledge for the general improvement of society, in whatever ways that we can. The criminal justice system greatly benefits from scientific progress, primarily because science can assist in the justice system's search for truth in the courts. However, merely developing the method is not enough; new forensic methods must be carefully tested and evaluated before they can be introduced into the courts. Law enforcement and attorneys must become familiar with the theory and limitations of the new practice, and the technology to perform the analyses must be distributed and operated in forensic laboratories. This paper attempts to review and examine one potential aid to forensic science, the ability to use mass spectrometry methods to obtain a chemical fingerprint of collected evidence. Following an overview of the aims of chemical fingerprinting and trace evidence, the MS methods in question are explained in detail. Afterwards, their capacity to analyze forensic evidence will be reviewed briefly, and some potential shortcomings of the science are explored. Third, the technique's ability to be applied to forensic issues will be examined from the perspective of law enforcement and forensic laboratories. Finally, some concerns about the courtroom presentation and reception of the results will be discussed.

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  • 10/14/2020
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