What is Forensic Science?

The word forensic comes from the Latin word forensis:  public, to the forum or public discussion; argumentative, rhetorical, belonging to debate or discussion.  A relevant, modern definition of forensic is:  relating to, used in, or suitable to a court of law (Merriam Webster Dictionary, www.merriam-webster.com).  Any science used for the purposes of the law is a forensic science.

The forensic sciences are used around the world to resolve civil disputes, to justly enforce criminal laws and government regulations, and to protect public health.  Forensic scientists may be involved anytime an objective, scientific analysis is needed to find the truth and to seek justice in a legal proceeding.  Early on, forensic science became identified with law enforcement and the prosecution of criminal cases — an image enhanced by books, television, and movies.  This is misleading because forensic science is objective, unbiased, and applies equally to either side of any criminal, civil, or other legal matter.

Forensic science is a rewarding career where the love of science can be applied to the good of society, public health, and public safety.

Go back to Choosing a Career Overview