Do forensic science type shows (e.g. "CSI") make criminals act smarter?

I’m not sure there’s a way to quantify this, but I’m wondering if the prevalance of shows such as “CSI” that show how forensic scientists work, have made the jobs of actual forensic scientists more difficult in that criminals are now more aware of what they have to do in order to leave behind no traces at the crime scene? I know that CSI is highly fictionalized, but still, I could envision some criminal out there thinking to wear latex gloves and vacuum the carpet afterwards, when he might not have done so prior to watching some crime shows on TV.

Anyone happen to know?

Well, anecdotally, these days we find men vaccuming or buying new mattresses or what have you after their wives disappear and before bodies are found. So one the one hand it’s pretty clear that they are trying to destroy evidence, but on the other hand the act of doing it makes them look suspicious.

It predates CSI though. A 1996 episode of Law & Order featured a murder done following the guidelines in a mail-order book, including a checklist. The DAs pressured the publisher to release the mailing list, threatening a charge of facilitation, though I’m not sure such a case would have held up under First Amendment scrutiny.

The episode was based in part on a real-life case involving a double murder and a 1983 book called “Hitman.” A published guide is certainly more danerous than some hopped-up TV show but if anything, the murder rate has dropped since 1983.

Meh. If I really wanted someone dead, I’d make it look like an accident, and a nice simple accident at that.

Funny you should ask. While I have never done it, I have often made the remark (jokingly of course) that after the number of ‘American Justice’ and ‘Cold Case Files’ type shows I have watched that I could probably kill my wife and get away with it.

My main concern is not necessarily that these shows will make murderers smarter, but that they make jurors dumber. I think some jurors don’t realize that a lot of the crap on those shows is complete and utter bunk, and expect that every case have complete and utter scientific proof. One of my collegues had a juror on a felony retail theft who indicated that she was concerned because the State never conducted DNA tests on the clothing that was taken to find the Defendant’s DNA on it.



DO you know how few stories there are out there that makes me wish I were still doing defense work?

I can just imagine successfully impeaching a witness on a shoplifting case by asking if they did DNA testing on the merchandise…

Hee hee hee…

I think it’s an interesting trade off. Much of the stuff in CSI is pure fiction (unlimited zoom in pictures/security cameras, the ability to split a cell phone audio file and seperate a fart in a hurricane and of course, DNA testing in hours, not months!)

If criminals are going to go through the trouble of “cleaning after themselves” they might make some other mistake.

I always thought that “forensics shows”, especially the documentary programs that show up on the Discovery Channel, would tend to discourage (at least some) criminals. Seeing some guy getting convicted for leaving a single hair at the scene of a crime is pretty powerful stuff. Shows that you can get caught no matter how careful or clever you are.

I wonder just how representative the cases on these shows are. For every “Cold Case File,” where some key bit of evidence surfaces months later and allows the forensic guys to crack the case, how many cases are there where that bit of evidence doesn’t surface, or where the tests are inconclusive, or for whatever other reason noone is ever convicted?

This one always annoys the hell out of me.

They take a grainy, out-of-focus still from a security camera, and after about three minutes of “enhancement” on the computer they can read a car license plate two hundred yards away.

Give me a fucking break!

See? It’s working!

ROFLMAO, mrAru’s sister is in forensics, and we joke that with her help and our assorted sordid backgrounds we would have no trouble committing the perfect murder if we had the right equipment and the desire to off someone…

Though I have smelled ahem well aged dead animal bodies and maggots give me the serious oogies, I have no idea how in heck she managed to work at the Body Farm…between the smell and the maggots I would have serious problems! Just give me a good clean [comparatively speaking] accident with a fresh body.