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LEGAL CAREER INFORMATION YOU CAN USE

Forensics Experts and the Law [Danielle D. Hansen, J.D.] You may not think of it now, but at some point in your legal career, you may need to consult with an expert in the field of forensics. However, this is no longer limited to murder cases and DNA evidence that you may see on CSI each week. The new field of “technical forensics” involves the ever-growing computer world, and you may find yourself relying on them or other forensics experts in cases where their input may prove useful.

This week at Law Crossing, we will discuss

is erased, but computer forensic experts are

irritating for virtually anyone who thought

the different types of forensic sciences, how

able to collect this information nonetheless.

he or she was safe simply by clicking on the delete key.

a forensics or technical expert could assist you in your research, and the basic legal evi-

Thus, an expert could assist you in any case

dentiary concerns surrounding forensic evi-

where a computer is involved. In our modern

Electronic Evidence Companies

dence. A general knowledge of forensics can

world, it’s hard to imagine any crime that

After transferring data to a CD or DVD, the

absolutely help you in your legal career, and

does not involve a computer in one way or

evidence then goes to an electronic evidence

it should not be taken lightly just because

another. We’ve all recently heard of high-

company, who can neatly organize, sort, and

you’re not litigating DNA-related cases.

profile cases where defendants used the

index the information into a readily usable

Internet to plot maps of their actions, to

format. You may not need this service if

Luckily, there are many CLE programs ad-

check weather reports, to stalk via email,

the quantity of digital information is small

dressing forensic evidence. We would recom-

and to hack into the computers of others.

or manageable. However, many times you

mend taking such a course. You have to take

The list goes on and on, and a computer fo-

may encounter a virtual mountain of digital

a certain amount of CLE anyway, right? So,

rensics specialist could be used every single

information. In this instance, the services

it’s a win-win situation. You fulfill your state

time. There are also white-collar crimes,

provided by an electronic evidence company

bar requirements and learn some things that

civil cases, and menial disagreements like

would prove invaluable.

could affect the way you practice and how

divorce. Whenever an aggrieved person

you search for evidence.

needs to prove that someone communicated

Larger data-collection firms will provide both

with someone else in a less-than-ethical

forensic experts and electronic evidence-col-

Computer Forensics

way (such as a wife proving that her husband

lection services. Otherwise, you will need to

We live in a world run by computers. We rely

sent flirtatious emails to his secretary 40

search for two different reputable firms with

on them for basic communication, record

times a day), a computer undoubtedly will be

the proper certifications, experience, and

keeping, bill paying, and even entertain-

examined.

knowledge. Depending on where you live, you

ment. In the U.S. alone, more than 3.5 trillion

may find several right near your office, or

emails are transmitted per day. Comput-

A forensic technologist is a computer expert

you may have to scour the Internet and find

ers have become extensions of ourselves;

who is able to uncover, collect, group, and

one in a nearby city. As we all know, evidence

they track our actions and leave a digitally

record any digital information. You simply tell

must be collected properly in order to be

imprinted copy of our daily lives. Computer

them what type of evidence or information

admissible, and the companies with the bet-

forensic experts are able to collect this data,

you are hoping to uncover. After setting your

ter reputations will also know this and keep

which can make or break your case.

parameters, the expert will find the appli-

meticulous records of all their actions.

cable data and provide you with the informaMoreover, they are able to uncover electronic

tion. They can recover long-deleted files.

When searching for a legitimate digital

data that was thought to be deleted. Digital

They can find whatever websites a person

forensics expert, analyze their professional

footsteps of mistakes, misdeeds, actions, and

visited. They can tell when a person logged

resumes and specifically look for certifica-

communications are unearthed long after

onto a computer, sometimes providing

tions, length of experience, how many times

they are forgotten…long after you “think”

people with alibis in this manner.

the expert has testified, and in which courts

you deleted them. Many people mistakenly

the expert has qualified. There are hundreds

assume that once they hit delete or empty

There is very little information that they

of certifications, and one can easily be misled

their recycle bin, then their digital footstep

cannot discover, and this has proved quite

into believing that certain experts are more

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1.800. 973. 1177

LEGAL CAREER INFORMATION YOU CAN USE

knowledgeable than they really are.

concrete was installed properly and the framing was correct and could detect if the wood

First, look to see if they are an EnCase

was properly treated before used. The expert

Certified Examiner (EnCE). This is the most

should be able to pinpoint why the damage

credible certification currently available. In

occurred and at what point the construction

addition to the EnCE certification, be sure to

entity failed in creating a safe habitation, as

verify that the expert has plenty of additional

well as where and when the entity deviated

certifications. These certifications could in-

from industry standards.

clude those from Microsoft, as well as various network-administration credentials.

Forensic Evidence in Court Evidence must be relevant and reliable, and

Even when experts do have enough certifica-

there is no exception for forensic evidence.

tions to meet your needs, which indicates they

In many jurisdictions, a judge in a pretrial

have the proper experience and knowledge,

Daubert hearing determines the admissibility

you should still always ask to see their client

of forensic and scientific evidence. The judge

list. Talk to previous customers. Interview the

will determine if the evidence is reliable and

expert. Let them tell you how they can help

thus admissible by determining if the collec-

you recover the wanted digital evidence.

tion procedure was proper.

You should also ask about budgeting con-

Experts with legal experience will make the

cerns. Digital expert services may prove

evidentiary process easier for you and the

invaluable, but they are also quite expensive.

court. An expert should understand how

As with anything, if you don’t carefully monitor

evidence should be collected and safeguarded

this service, you may find your bill larger than

and documented from a legal standpoint.

you ever imagined. Set a budget and tell the service what you expect. This forethought may

We hope you’ve gained a little insight into the

save you unneeded future financial frustra-

value of forensic evidence. At the very least,

tion. Follow your Contracts 101 basics and get

we hope you will no longer think of forensic

this all in writing.

evidence as merely a human corpse on a coroner’s table. Just remember the basic

Finally, go with the company that puts you at

definition of the word forensic itself: the use

ease--after all, you really don’t need any addi-

of science to solve legal problems. Science

tional worries or frustrations. A digital expert

embodies so much nowadays, and you’re

should make your life easier, not create more

doing your profession a disservice by not con-

problems.

sidering the entire scope of forensics.

Other Areas of Forensics In addition to digital forensic analysts, there is also a wide variety of forensic experts in every field. Are you working on a design-defect case? A construction case? A slip-and fallcase? No matter the field, there are experts waiting for your business. For example, say you have a case involving poor construction of a home, which caused property damage or injury during an earthquake. A forensics construction expert could analyze the home, making sure that the

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Forensics Experts and the Law