As science continues to progress and evolve, the criminology fields also change. In recent years, evidence related to DNA science has grown ever more important. You likely understand a thing or two about how DNA factors into court cases.
But what do you know about trace evidence? Something that seems so insignificant can actually end up putting people behind bars.
Fibers as trace evidence
Cornell University takes a deeper look into trace evidence, a crucial component in many criminal cases. Trace evidence includes any small piece of physical evidence. These pieces can range from barely big enough to see with the human eye, down to microscopic sizes.
Fibers make up one category. This includes manufactured and natural fibers. Natural fibers come from animals and plants. They can include wool, cashmere, animal fur or cotton. Manufactured fibers come from non-natural sources. Examples include nylon, rayon and polyester.
With new science, police can often trace back fibers to the source material with ease. They may pick up jacket fibers from a potential suspect, for example. In some cases, they can even trace fibers back to a manufacturer or the store a suspect bought the shedding item from.
Hair as trace evidence
Hair is another big category. Scientists can glean information from the cuticle, cortex and medulla of a hair strand. For example, you cannot identify a person through the cuticle of the hair. However, you can determine if that hair belonged to a human. Meanwhile, the medulla is a tube of cells in the center of the hair that allows for the identification of species.
These small pieces of evidence often take up a decent portion of the prosecution’s arguments and presentation. Consider discussing this with your legal expert.