Glossary for Forensic Science Class
Latent Prints - Identification and comparison of fingerprints or other hidden impressions from sources like feet,
shoes, ears, lips or the tread on vehicle tires.
Types of Evidence
1. Testimonial evidence includes oral or written statements given to police as well as court testimony
by people who witnessed an event.
2. Physical evidence refers to any material items that would be present at the crime scene, on the
victims, or found in a suspect’s possession.
3. Trace evidence refers to physical evidence that is found in small but measurable amounts, such as
strands of hair, fibers, or skin cells. This evidence is too small to be easily seen with the naked eye.
CRIME SCENE: Any physical location in which a crime has occurred or is suspected of having occurred.
1. PRIMARY CRIME SCENE: The original location of a crime or accident.
2. SECONDARY CRIME SCENE: An alternate location where additional evidence may be found.
SUSPECT: Person thought to be capable of committing a crime.
ACCOMPLICE: Person associated with someone suspected of committing a crime.
ALIBI: Statement of where a suspect was at the time of a crime.
Locard’s Exchange Principle Whenever two objects come into contact with one another, there is exchange
of materials between them.
Rigor Mortis The medical condition that occurs after death and results in the stiffening of muscle mass. The
rigidity of the body gradually disappears 24 hours after death.
Livor Mortis The medical condition that occurs after death and results in the settling of blood in areas of the
body closest to the ground.
Autopsy The medical dissection and examination of a body in order to determine the cause of death.
Expert Witness An individual whom the court determines to possess knowledge relevant to the trial that is
not expected of the average layperson.