Forensic Science: From the Crime Scene to the Crime Lab, 3rd Edition

Richard Saferstein

Forensic Science: From the Crime Scene to the Crime Lab, 3rd Edition

By Richard Saferstein
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Richard Saferstein
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For courses in crime scene investigation


A Straightforward, Student-Friendly Primer on Forensics

Forensic Science: From the Crime Scene to the Crime Lab presents forensic science in a straightforward, student-friendly format that’s ideal for students with limited backgrounds in the sciences. Topics are arranged to integrate scientific methodology with actual forensic applications, and discussions are focused on explaining state-of-the-art technology without delving into extraneous theories that may bore or overwhelm non-science students. Only the most relevant scientific and technological concepts are presented, keeping students focused on the practical knowledge they’ll need in the field. The 3rd Edition is updated to include a brand-new chapter on mobile device forensics, and new revisions to the text reflect the now nearly exclusive use of digital photography at crime scenes.



RICHARD SAFERSTEIN, Ph.D., retired in 1991 after serving for twenty-one years as the chief forensic scientist of the New Jersey State Police Laboratory, one of the largest crime laboratories in the United States. He currently acts as a consultant for attorneys and the media in the area of forensic science. During the O. J. Simpson criminal trial, Dr. Saferstein provided extensive commentary on forensic aspects of the case for the Rivera Live show, the E! television network, ABC radio, and various radio talk shows. Dr. Saferstein holds degrees from the City College of New York and earned his doctorate degree in chemistry in 1970 from the City University of New York. From 1972 to 1991, he taught an introductory forensic science course in the criminal justice programs at the College of New Jersey and Ocean County College. These teaching experiences played an influential role in Dr. Saferstein’s authorship in 1977 of the widely used introductory textbook Criminalistics: An Introduction to Forensic Science, currently in its eleventh edition. Dr. Saferstein’s basic philosophy in writing Forensic Science: From the Crime Scene to the Crime Lab, Third Edition, is to make forensic science understandable and meaningful to the non-science reader while giving the reader an appreciation for the scientific principles that underlie the subject.


Dr. Saferstein has authored or coauthored more than forty-five technical papers covering a variety of forensic topics. He authored Basic Laboratory Exercises for Forensic Science, Second Edition (Prentice Hall, 2011) and coauthored Lab Manual for Criminalistics, Eleventh Edition (Prentice Hall, 2015). He has also edited the widely used professional reference books Forensic Science Handbook, Volume 1, Second Edition (Prentice Hall, 2002), Forensic Science Handbook, Volume 2, Second Edition (Prentice Hall, 2005), and Forensic Science Handbook, Volume 3, Second Edition (Prentice Hall, 2010). Dr. Saferstein is a member of the American Chemical Society, American Academy of Forensic Sciences, Canadian Society of Forensic Scientists, International Association for Identification, Northeastern Association of Forensic Scientists, and Society of Forensic Toxicologists.


In 2006, Dr. Saferstein received the American Academy of Forensic Sciences Paul L. Kirk award for distinguished service and contributions to the field of criminalistics.





Study Aids, Step-by-Step Learning, and Review

  • Practical focus and applications aids learning. Topics are arranged to integrate scientific methodology with actual forensic applications, and material is more memorable since students see how it is applied in real cases. Science topics focus on explaining state-of-the-art technology without going into too much theory that might bog students down. Case Readings and Case Files features discuss cases of notoriety to demonstrate actual applications of forensic science to real investigations.
  • New! Information throughout the text has been updated and many new figures have been added to illustrate concepts discussed in the chapters.
  • Offers step-by-step coverage that students can follow. Initial chapters of the text are devoted to the role of the crime scene investigator at the actual crime scene so students see the step-by-step process of an investigation. Content progresses logically, without superfluous theoretical discussions.
  • Improves learning with proven pedagogy. Engaging features help students stay focused and truly master the material in each chapter.
  • Quick Reviews and Chapter Summaries recap all of the major points in each chapter.
  • Review Questions and Application and Critical Thinking exercises help students practice skills and check learning.

Crime Scene Specifics

  • New! Chapter 3, “Recording the Crime Scene,” has been revised to emphasise the almost exclusive use of digital cameras for photographing the crime scene.
  • New! Chapter 4, “Collection of Crime-Scene Evidence,” has been expanded to emphasise the proper collection of DNA evidence to preserve its integrity.
  • Covers everything students need to know in an introductory course. Complete coverage includes crime scene procedures and processes, and the fundamentals of forensic science techniques in the crime lab. Specific forensic science applications are also included, such as document examination and computer forensics.
  • New! Chapter 19 “Mobile Device Forensics” is completely new to the text. Forensics on mobile devices, like cell phones, can provide an overlay to physical evidence and forensic timelines to give a clearer picture of the events preceding and following a crime event.
  • New! Chapter 15, “Biological Stain Analysis: DNA,” has been expanded to emphasise safety considerations in the collection of DNA evidence and the avoidance of potential sources of contamination.
  • Virtual Crime Scene exercises enable readers to move through various types of crime scenes while identifying and collecting physical evidence.
Table of contents
  • 1.     Introduction
  • 2.     Securing and Searching the Crime Scene
  • 3.     Recording the Crime Scene
  • 4.     Collection of Crime-Scene Evidence
  • 5.     Physical Evidence
  • 6.     Death Investigation
  • 7.     Crime-Scene Reconstruction
  • 8.     Fingerprints
  • 9.     Firearms, Tool Marks, and Other Impressions
  • 10. Bloodstain Pattern Analysis
  • 11. Drugs
  • 12. Forensic Toxicology
  • 13. Trace Evidence I: Hairs and Fibers
  • 14. Trace Evidence II: Paint, Glass, and Soil
  • 15. Biological Stain Analysis: DNA
  • 16. Forensic Aspects of Fire and Explosion Investigation
  • 17. Document Examination
  • 18. Computer Forensics
  • 19. Mobile Device Forensics