o empirical evidence to back up this claim that criminal cases have been affected because the jurors are now more well-versed in Forensic Science through these television series—making it more difficult to get a guilty verdict as jurors require more forensic evidence—a study has been conducted on 1027 jurors that show that “46 % expected to see some kind of scientific evidence in every criminal case” (Barak, Kim and Shelton, 2006 as cited in Shelton, 2008, p. 5).
Now, because gun-related crimes continue to rise since 2002, with 68% of murders in the United States in the year 2006 being committed with the use of a firearm, it can be said that much of the scientific evidence being expected by jurors relate to ballistics, which is a specialized area in the field of Forensics (National Institute of Justice, 2010, para. 2). In fact, the study on “the CSI Effect” found that “32 % expected to see ballistic/firearms laboratory evidence in every criminal case” (p. 5). This introduction into Forensic Science and Ballistics does not only highlight their key role in crime-solving, but also emphasizes the role of scientific evidence in serving justice. It can be said, then, that no matter how the television series may have exaggerated some aspects of crime scene investigation, like the time the evidence is processed, it cannot be refuted that the field of Forensics and Ballistics play crucial roles in the criminal justice system—CSI Effect or not.
Having established the importance of Forensic Science and Ballistics, I will now outline what this paper will contain. In the course of my paper I will provide background and history of the field and I will then examine the many changes undergone by ballistics in the 20th century. Case studies will be examined to highlight the points that I will be making. I will then conclude with some thoughts as to where the field may go in the future.
Forensic Science, most commonly known by its shortened name of Forensics, is