Forensic Terms

Reverse Paternity DNA

A method by which a person’s blood can be identified by comparing the DNA profiles of individuals believed to be that person’s parents. Individual DNA makeup is a combination of parental DNA. Siblings will share these patterns while retaining unique DNA markers.

Rape Kit

Biological material collected from a rape victim after the fact, to obtain genetic material of the suspected perpetrator.

Questioned Documents

Any object that contains handwritten or typewritten markings whose source or authenticity are not known, but which is still relevant to the outcome of a legal proceeding.

Puncture Wound

A wound that is neither an impact wound nor one caused by a projectile; a piercing of the body, usually by a handheld object.

Psychopathic Personality

A person whose behavior is largely amoral and asocial, and who is characterized by perverse or impulsive behavior, and a lack of remorse for the consequences of this behavior.

Psychological Profile

A tool used to aid investigators by providing speculative information about a perpetrator’s psychological makeup. Information from crime scenes is integrated with psychological theory and then cross-referenced against similar crimes. The result is a hypothetical model of the suspect that can include age, occupation, appearance, and personal information ranging from sexual preferences to dietary habits.

Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)

Scientists often refer to PCR as “photocopying DNA,” since it allows them to rapidly replicate DNA molecules. The technique usually is employed when a given sample of DNA is too small for forensic testing.

Point-by-Point Analysis

When comparing a known object to one that needs to be identified, analysts will break down photos of each into small quadrants, and compare the respective similarities within those quadrants.


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