Crime Scene Investigations: Everything You Want to Know But Were Afraid to Ask

Everything you wanted to know about crime scene investigations but were afraid to ask. 

Our students are mesmerized with CSI Cleveland and all other television shows showing beautiful young people solving crimes using the latest technology. There are two things to keep in mind. The first is that the CSI series and its clones are such complete fiction that they are hard to watch (at least for us) and second, crime scene investigation is dirty and complex work that most people wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole. 

Having said that, it impossible to persuade students from the subject. With that thought in mind, the National Institute of Justice of the US Department of Justice offers a complete array of material covering virtually all aspects of crime scene investigation. For all you budding investigators, enjoy! 

Crime in America.Net 

Forensic Sciences

Forensic sciences play a vital role in the criminal justice system by providing investigators with scientifically based information through the analysis of physical evidence. 

During an investigation, forensic evidence is collected at a crime scene, analyzed in a laboratory and often presented in court. Each crime scene is unique, and each case presents its own challenges. Complex cases may require the collection, examination and analysis of a large amount of evidence. These cases may involve multiple forensic experts with backgrounds in biology, chemistry, physics, computer science and other disciplines. These forensic scientists work separately to analyze the evidence in a particular case. For example, one forensic examiner might analyze a latent print, another may compare carpet fibers using a microscope, and a third may identify a white powder that was collected at the scene. The investigators will then combine all of the examiners’ objective results to build a case. 

Forensic Sciences Pages

Laboratory Operations 

Evidence Backlogs(Show all sub-pages) 

DNA Evidence Backlogs: Forensic Casework 

DNA Evidence Backlogs: Convicted Offender and Arrestee Samples 

Increasing Demand for Testing 

Increasing Laboratory Capacity 

Untested Evidence in Law Enforcement Agencies 

Untested Sexual Assault Evidence in Law Enforcement Custody 

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Laboratory Capacity Enhancement(Show all sub-pages) 

Forensic DNA Backlog Reduction Program ( 

Convicted Offender and Arrestee DNA Backlog Reduction Program ( 

Forensic DNA Unit Efficiency Improvement ( 

Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement Grants Program 

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Information Systems and Databases(Show all sub-pages) 

National Missing and Unidentified Persons System ( 

Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) ( 

Forensic Databases: Paint, Shoe Prints, and Beyond (NIJ Journal) 

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Evidence — Types of 

Controlled Substances 

Forensic Anthropology and Dentistry Alternative Genetic Markers ( 

Forensic DNA 

  • Compromised DNA Evidence (
  • Human DNA Quantitation (
  • General Tools and Information (
  • Miniaturization and Automation (
  • Mitochondrial DNA (
  • Non-Human DNA (
  • Sperm Detection and Separation (
  • Y Chromosome (
  • DNA Evidence Backlogs 

    Forensic Laboratory Enhancement Funding ( 

    • Forensic DNA Backlog Reduction (
    • Convicted Offender/Arrestee DNA Backlog Reduction (
    • Forensic DNA Unit Efficiency Improvement (

    Postconviction DNA Testing 

    Solving Cold Cases With DNA 

    • Solving Cold Cases With DNA Funding Program (
    • Using DNA to Solve Cold Cases (

    Using DNA to Solve Property Crimes 

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    Forensic Pathology 

    Forensic Toxicology 

    Impression and Pattern Evidence 

    Trace Evidence 

    Investigations — Types of 

    Cold Case Investigation(Show all sub-pages) 

    Solving Cold Cases With DNA Funding Program ( 

    Using DNA to Solve Cold Cases ( 

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    Crime Scene Examination(Show all sub-pages) 

    Crime Scene Investigation: Guides for Law Enforcement 

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    Death Investigation(Show all sub-pages) 

    Death Investigation Symposium Exit Notice [opens in pop-up window] 

    Medicolegal Death Investigation Training 

    A Guide to Death Scene Investigation 

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    Fire and Arson Investigation(Show all sub-pages) 

    Guide for Investigating Fire and Arson 

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    Missing Persons Investigations(Show all sub-pages) 

    Solving Missing Persons Cases (NIJ Journal) 

    National Missing and Unidentified Persons System ( 

    Identifying Missing Persons and Unidentified Decedents ( 

    Funding to Identify Missing Persons ( 

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    Mass Fatality Investigations(Show all sub-pages) 

    Mass Fatality Incidents: A Guide for Human Forensic Identification 

    Lessons Learned From 9/11: DNA Identification in Mass Fatality Incidents ( 

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    Postconviction Testing 

    Postconviction DNA Testing Is at Core of Major NIJ Initiatives (NIJ Journal article) 

    Funding for Postconviction Testing ( 

    Postconviction DNA Testing: Handling Postconviction Requests ( 

    Training — Curriculum Development and Course Delivery 

    Forensic Science Training Development and Delivery Program ( 

    Available Course Topics(Show all sub-pages) 

    Courtroom Presentation and Officers of the Court 

    Crime Scene Investigation 


    Firearms Examination 

    Forensic DNA/Biology 

    Pattern and Impression Evidence 

    Laboratory Management & Administration 

    Medicolegal Death Investigation 


    Questioned Documents 

    Toxicology and Controlled Substance 

    Trace Evidence 

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