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NCJ Number: 154799 Add to Shopping cart Find in a Library
Title: Forensic Science: Forensic Evidence in Arson Cases: Part II
Journal: Criminal Law Bulletin  Volume:29  Issue:1  Dated:(January-February 1993)  Pages:70-75
Author(s): E J Imwinkelried
Date Published: 1993
Page Count: 6
Sponsoring Agency: National Institute of Justice/
Rockville, MD 20849
NCJRS Photocopy Services
Rockville, MD 20849-6000
Sale Source: National Institute of Justice/
NCJRS paper reproduction
Box 6000, Dept F
Rockville, MD 20849
United States of America

NCJRS Photocopy Services
Box 6000
Rockville, MD 20849-6000
United States of America
Type: Survey
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article examines the use of forensic evidence in arson cases in terms of possible findings and laboratory test procedures and notes that attorneys trying arson cases are likely to encounter two different expert types, laboratory analysts and fire scene investigators.
Abstract: The ability to identify the accelerant's manufacturer in arson cases depends on the sophistication of laboratory instruments and on the availability of comparable data. Even when the prosecution cannot find documentary evidence, such as invoices, to trace the accelerant to the defendant, the prosecution may be able to use scientific testimony to connect accelerant found at the fire scene to the defendant. Proving accelerant in the defendant's possession has peculiar characteristics is even more difficult than proving accelerant produced by a particular company has characteristics distinguishing it from accelerant produced by other processors. In any event, the laboratory analyst must extract the suspected accelerant from physical evidence. After extraction, the analyst can subject the suspected accelerant to various tests. Laboratory analyst opinions can be useful in establishing the arson case's corpus delicti or actus reus. Fire scene investigator opinions are relevant to proving the actus reus of arson. Laboratory analysts and fire scene investigators function as a team in arson cases, and prosecutors and defense counsel must be familiar with the utility and limitations of opinions proffered by both types of arson experts.
Main Term(s): Police
Index Term(s): Arson investigations; Crime laboratories; Criminology; Evidence identification; Expert witnesses; Forensic sciences; Prosecution
Note: See NCJ-139645 for Part I
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