Difference between Forensic Scientist and Criminalist

Key Difference: There isn’t much difference between Forensic Scientists and Criminalist. They are a part of each other, where a criminalist is a type of forensic scientist.

Crime shows such as CSI (Crime Scene Investigation), Castle, NCIS and other such popular shows try to show the interesting world of crime and gives the viewers a skewed idea of how things work, including what are forensic scientists and criminalists. On these shows, a forensic scientist is shown work in a field, in the lab and even going as far as toarrest the criminal on the show. However, as we all knowtelevision is not reality but a work of fiction.

In reality, forensic science is a vast field that includes various studies such as pathology, odontology, pathology, engineering, etc. Under this vast field, also exists criminalist. It can be argued – and rightly that criminalist and forensic scientists perform similar duties. Even the American Board of Criminalistics claim that Forensic Science and Criminalist one and the same.

There isn’t a particular one type of forensic scientist or criminalist, there are people who study for years in order to become experts in their field.The term ‘forensic science’ refers to applying the scientific method of gathering and examining information about the past which is then used in a court of law.

The duties of a forensic scientists range from gathering evidence at a crime scene to analyzing the found data and to even providing the evidence in court as testimony. When a crime usually occurs, forensic scientists or criminalists are called to the scene in order to collect evidence and record every aspect of the crime scene and pass it on to the labs. The forensic scientists at the lab then search for prints, analyzeblood samples, check for fluids, and even things such as tire tracks to determine if the evidence is conclusive as to how the crime was committed.

For each aspect of this, there is a specialist that will check for the evidence and inferences that can be made from that.These criminalists can also testify as experts in the court of law as well as provide evidence to testify against a crime.

In short, there isn’t much difference between Forensic Scientists and Criminalist. They are a part of each other, where a criminalist is a type of forensic scientist.

Comparison between Forensic Scientist and Criminalist:

 

Forensic Scientist

Criminalist

Encompasses

Forensic science includes forensic pathology, odontology, entomology, engineering, criminology, and other disciplines.

Is a division of forensic science

Qualities

Must keep a record of everything they encounter and collect as evidence. They must use critical thinking and back their findings by evidence.

Duties

Travel to crime scene, collect evidence, bag the evidence, ensure proper handling so that the evidence is not compromised, submit the evidence to the lab – where lab technicians determine what happened, support their findings in a court of law

Types

Forensic science includes forensic pathology, odontology, entomology, engineering, criminology, and other disciplines.

Firearms and Toolmarks, Trace Evidence, DNA and Serology, Drugs, Alcohol and Toxicology

Background

Requires various bachelor’s degree in forensic science, chemistry, biology or some other form science.

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