CJ312 Criminalistics

for F2T 2007

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CJ 312 Criminalistics


F2T 2007 DL


Scheffner, Douglas W.


Senior Adjunct Instructor


B.A Criminal Justice

Daytime Phone


Other Phone





Semester Dates

F2T 2007

Class Days


Credit Hours


Criminalistics, An Introduction to Forensic Science, Eighth Edition

Author: Richard Saferstein

Textbooks can be purchased through the MBS bookstore

Textbooks can be purchased through the Parkville Bookstore

Additional Resources:

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FAQ's for Online Students - You might find the answer to your questions here.

Course Description:
This intermediate course covers topics such as the discovery, recognition, observation,identification and collection and comparison of physical evidence, including a review of various current techniques in testing of physical evidence. Prerequisite: CJ100 and CJ105. 3:0:3

Educational Philosophy:
Your instructor's educational philosophy is based upon virtual lectures, examinations, information from web sites provided, writings from outside sources and dialogue with myself and fellow students.  Assignments are intended to encourage a thoughtful exploration of ideas and application of information provided during the course.  Contradictory thoughts are encouraged as part of the learning process.

Learning Outcomes:
  Core Learning Outcomes

  1. Distinguish different types of evidence used in criminal prosecutions.
  2. Critique the admissibility of evidence.
  3. Recognize and develop evidence.

Core Assessment:

Class Assessment:
Each week, students are required to engage in discussion among themselves by answering and commenting upon questions posed for that week.  Each week's discussion is worth 20 points, with 1-10 provided for content and 1-10 points provided for timliness of submitting the discussion answers.  

Weeks 1-6 require a paper which provides the students opportunities to apply material learned from reading, vitual lecture and discussions.  Each paper carries a maximum of 100 points.

During the eighth week, a proctored final exam will be taken by the student which will combine multiple choice with short answer questions.

The grading scale is as follows: A = 90-100; B = 80-89; C = 70-79; D = 60-69; F = 0-59. The final exam will count 20% of your total grade, weekly discussion presentations will count 20% of your total grade and each weekly paper is worth 10%.  

Each student is responsible for:
Completing weekly Reading assignments.
Completing Weekly Discussion Questions.
Completing seven writing assignments, referred to as Papers.
Completing a proctored Final Examination

Late Submission of Course Materials:
Work should be submitted to the instructor by the last day of each assigned week.  Students experiencing a problem should contact the instructor to advise the reason work may be submitted late.  Unless authorized, late work will be subject to a penalty of 10 points reduction for each week late.

Classroom Rules of Conduct:
Policy #1:  Submission of Work:

A class week is defined as the period of time between Monday 12:01 am MST and Sunday at 11:59 PM MST. The first week begins the first day of the term/semester. Assignments scheduled for completion during a class week should be completed and successfully submitted by the posted due date.
Create a back up file of every piece of work you submit for grading. This will ensure that a computer glitch or a glitch in cyberspace won't erase your efforts.
When files are sent attached to an email, the files should be in either Microsoft Word, RTF, ASCII, txt, or PDF file formats.
Policy #2: Ground Rules for Online Communication & Participation

General email: Students should use email for private messages to the instructor and other students. When sending email other than assignments, you must identify yourself fully by name and class in all email sent to your instructor and/or other members of our class.
Online threaded discussions: are public messages and all writings in this area will be viewable by the entire class or assigned group members.
Online Instructor Response Policy:  I will check my email frequently and will respond to course-related questions within 24-48 hours.
Observation of "Netiquette": All your Online communications need to be composed with fairness, honesty and tact.  Spelling and grammar are very important in an Online course.  What you put into an Online course reflects on your level of professionalism.  Here are a couple of Online references that discuss writing Online http://goto.intwg.com/ and netiquette http://www.albion.com/netiquette/corerules.html.
Please check the Announcements area before you ask general course "housekeeping" questions (i.e. how do I submit assignment 3?).  If you don't see your question there, then please contact me.  
Policy #3: What to do if you experience technical problems or have questions about the Online classroom.  

If you experience computer difficulties (need help downloading a browser or plug-in, you need help logging into the course, or if you experience any errors or problems while in your Online course, click on the  button in your Online Classroom, then click on the helpdesk menu item, and then fill out the form or call the helpdesk for assistance.  
If the issue is preventing you from submitting or completing any coursework, contact me immediately.

Course Topic/Dates/Assignments:

Week 1: An Introduction to Criminalistics and Crime Scenes

Overview, Objectives, and Weekly Activities

During Week 1, we will discuss the basic and advanced forensic procedures available to investigators.  During this week we'll examine the early history and development of this science and study the overall range of its subject material.  Some emphasis will be placed this week on a systematic, organized plan for the forensic handling of a crime scene.

  • Readings:
    • Text: Chapters 1 and 2.
    • On-line site examinations:


  • Class Activities:Introduction to online computer conference learning. Introduction & discussion of syllabus/assignment and course overview.  Overview of criminalistics and history, discussion on crime scene development and submitting first paper based upon information from the web-sites..
  • On-line Conference Assignment:
  • Weekly Discussion Question:
    • After contacting your local police agency, determine who would process a major crime scene: do they do it themselves or use mutual aid from another agency?  Ask where the evidence would be submitted for forensic testing and report both aspects of information to the rest of the class.
    • Comment upon whether your selected agency's means of forensic development seems to be adequate based upon your readings and any comments made by the agency.
  • Paper: Select one of the articles found on ethics in the web-site assigned this week and review/comment upon it.  Be sure to identify which article you chose for instructor review.

Week 2:  Physical Evidence and Properties of Glass and Soil

Overview, Objectives, and Weekly Activities

During Week 2, we will begin a general examination of  the nature and basic types of physical evidence.  Some emphasis will be placed upon legal aspects, with this segment concluding in a discussion of the forensic evidence in the Wayne Williams homicide case.  The week will end with an examination of the text chapter on the specific physical properties found in glass and soil.

  • Readings:
    • Text: Study Chapters 3 and 4.
  • Class Activities: Examination of the nature of physical evidence and the major types encountered at crime scenes.  Study of two case histories with on-line discussion on one, and a paper on the other.
  • On-line Conference Assignment:
  • Weekly Discussion Topics/Question:
    • How much of the development of Wayne Williams was luck and how much was detailed investigation and evidence development?
  • Paper:  Review the Bobby Joe Long serial murder case study beginning on page 499 of your text and identify the important categories of physical evidence used in this case, indicating examples of evidence in each category.  Reassess the information you obtained in Week One from your local police agency regarding their forensic ability and offer an opinion of whether you feel confident that your agency could handle this type of evidence.

Week 3: Organic and Inorganic Analysis and Microscopy

Overview, Objectives, and Weekly Activities

During Week 3, we will examine the physical aspects of and differences between organic and inorganic analysis, also learning the primary instruments used in the examination of these substances.  During this week we will also study the field of microscopy in forensic studies. We will conclude the week with an examination of forensic entomology, anthropology and odontology in their criminal investigative uses.

  • Readings:
  • Class Activities: Discussion of chapters on organic and inorganic analysis and  microscopy with additional studies on forensic entomology and anthropology.
  • Weekly Discussion Topics/Question:
    • After reviewing links regarding forensic anthropology, provide your view of the methods used in Dr. William Bass' Anthropology Research Facility.
  • Paper: From the assigned website, go to "Case studies in the field of Forensic Entomology"  and select three cases, identifying in your paper which of the cases you chose.  Provide a brief review of the major aspects and compare and contrast similarities and differences in the cases: what aspects were the same, what aspects were different and what actions by the investigators contributed to successful results.

Week 4: Hairs, Fibers and Paint; Drugs

Overview, Objectives, and Weekly Activities

During Week 4, we will begin by examining the physical and forensic aspects of hairs, fibers and paints, drawing back on some of the discussions of the crime scene presented in Week 2.  We will also examine the means of collecting and preserving these types of evidence.   During Week 4 we will additionally discuss the forensic aspects of drugs along with a brief history of their influence on our culture.  Particular emphasis will be placed upon recognition of both legal and physiologic classifications of common drugs and the proper methods of collecting and preserving them for evidentiary use.

  • Readings:
  • Class Activities: Students will examine the aspects of hair, fiber and paint evidence and discuss its prevalence at crime scenes. 
  • On-line Conference Assignment:
  • Weekly Discussion Topics/Question:
    • From your knowledge of high-profile cases as well as your text, how important do you see hair and fiber evidence to the majority of crime scenes?
  • Paper: Review websites discussing the triple homicide case against Dr. Jeffery MacDonald and review/comment upon the hair and fiber evidence used in the prosecution.

Week 5: Toxicology and Arson/Explosives Evidence

Overview, Objectives, and Weekly Activities

During Week 5, we will examine the forensic aspects of toxicology and arson/explosives.  Particular emphasis will be placed on the most common toxicologic testing done, that of alcohol presence, but other discussion will involve less common poisons.  The section regarding arson and explosives will draw upon chemical and physical evidence aspects commonly encountered in these crime scenes.

  • Class Activities: Study of toxicology as well as arson and explosives evidence will be conducted this week.  Text material will be augmented with web-site material
  • On-line Conference Assignment:
  • Weekly Discussion Topics/Question:
    • Toxicology examinations are needed in most suspicious deaths, but many jurisdictions do not have a qualified forensic pathologist to perform the autopsies. What would you recommend be done if your jurisdiction lacks a forensic pathologist but you as the detective feel toxicologic testing is needed?
  • Paper: After reviewing the web-site for Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), seek any related links and offer your opinion on whether bombings are on the rise and any changes you see in motives, explosive material used, or methods.
  • Week 6:  Forensic Serology and DNA

    Overview, Objectives, and Weekly Activities

    During Week 6, we begin with an examination of forensic serology, with special emphasis on blood stains and spatter patterns.  Discussion on semenal evidence will lead into the second half of the week's material involving DNA.  We will briefly note its historical use but will emphasize the current techniques, uses and misuses of this dynamic field of forensic evidence.


    At the conclusion of this week, the student should

    • Understand the importance and specifics of serology and blood spatter pattern analysis
    • Understand the major types of DNA analysis: RFLP, PCR, STR and mtDNA
    • Know the major concerns and precautions in DNA evidence collection
  • Class Activities: Students will engage in an examination of serology which will lead to the emphasis of the week, DNA evidence.  Students will augment text readings with web-site information
  • Weekly Discussion Topics/Question:
    • DNA is obviously one of the fastest-developing forms of forensic evidence.  Comment upon potential pitfalls or failures you see in this form of evidence.
  • Paper: Review the article from the assigned web-site and compare the aspects of mitochondiral DNA to the more known PCR and RFLP techniques.
  • Week 7: Fingerprints, Firearms and Toolmarks; Document and Voice Examination

    Overview, Objectives, and Weekly Activities

    During Week 7, we will discuss  fingerprinting, examining the fundamentals, brief history of their fornesic uses and the traditional as well as emerging means of detecting and preserving them as evidence.  We will finish the week with studying firearms/toolmarks and document and voice analysis.

    At the conclusion of this week, the student should

    • Learn the history and basic patterns of fingerprints;
    • Understand the new technology of fingerprint storage and search;
    • Learn the significance and types of toolmarks;
    • Learn the significant forensic evidence to be found from firearms;
    • Understand the significant aspects of document and voice examination.
    • Readings:
      • Text: Chapters 14, 15 and 16
    • Class Activities: Fingerprints, toolmarks (which includes firearms) and document & voice examination will be studied.  Some web-site information may be recommended during the discussion
    • Weekly Discussion Topics/Question:
      • With the advent of highly sophisticated forensic techniques, do you feel that fingerprinting is now outdated and over-rated at the crime scene?  Should more emphasis be placed on more high-tech evidence collection?

    Week 8: Computers, the Internet and Forensic Future

    Overview, Objectives, and Weekly Activities

    During Week 8, we will conclude the course with an examination of  the internet in investigations and discussion of the future in forensic science and criminology.    During this week you will also complete the final examination for this course.


    At the conclusion of this week, the student should

    • Understand the basic components of computers and the internet
    • Learn basic considerations and approaches to computer data examination.
    • Recognize some of the changing future techniques in forensics.
    • Readings:
    • Class Activities: Discussion of computer evidence, use of the internet in investigation and the future trends expected in forensic studies.  Final exam is taken by proctor method by the end of this week.
    • On-line Conference Assignment:
    • Weekly Discussion Topics/Question:
      • What dangers do you see as well as applications of computers on criminology?
      • In what ways do you see the internet being used in forensic studies?
      • Are you aware of any other areas of forensic science being developed but not discussed by your text?

    Academic Honesty:
    Academic integrity is the foundation of the academic community. Because each student has the primary responsibility for being academically honest, students are advised to read and understand all sections of this policy relating to standards of conduct and academic life.   Park University 2007-2008 Undergraduate Catalog Page 85-86

    Plagiarism involves the use of quotations without quotation marks, the use of quotations without indication of the source, the use of another's idea without acknowledging the source, the submission of a paper, laboratory report, project, or class assignment (any portion of such) prepared by another person, or incorrect paraphrasing. Park University 2007-2008 Undergraduate Catalog Page 85

    Attendance Policy:
    Instructors are required to maintain attendance records and to report absences via the online attendance reporting system.

    1. The instructor may excuse absences for valid reasons, but missed work must be made up within the semester/term of enrollment.
    2. Work missed through unexcused absences must also be made up within the semester/term of enrollment.
    3. Work missed through unexcused absences must also be made up within the semester/term of enrollment, but unexcused absences may carry further penalties.
    4. In the event of two consecutive weeks of unexcused absences in a semester/term of enrollment, the student will be administratively withdrawn, resulting in a grade of "F".
    5. A "Contract for Incomplete" will not be issued to a student who has unexcused or excessive absences recorded for a course.
    6. Students receiving Military Tuition Assistance or Veterans Administration educational benefits must not exceed three unexcused absences in the semester/term of enrollment. Excessive absences will be reported to the appropriate agency and may result in a monetary penalty to the student.
    7. Report of a "F" grade (attendance or academic) resulting from excessive absence for those students who are receiving financial assistance from agencies not mentioned in item 5 above will be reported to the appropriate agency.
    ONLINE NOTE: An attendance report of "P" (present) will be recorded for students who have logged in to the Online classroom at least once during each week of the term. Recording of attendance is not equivalent to participation. Participation grades will be assigned by each instructor according to the criteria in the Grading Policy section of the syllabus.

    Park University 2007-2008 Undergraduate Catalog Page 87-88

    Disability Guidelines:
    Park University is committed to meeting the needs of all students that meet the criteria for special assistance. These guidelines are designed to supply directions to students concerning the information necessary to accomplish this goal. It is Park University's policy to comply fully with federal and state law, including Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, regarding students with disabilities. In the case of any inconsistency between these guidelines and federal and/or state law, the provisions of the law will apply. Additional information concerning Park University's policies and procedures related to disability can be found on the Park University web page: http://www.park.edu/disability .


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    Last Updated:10/19/2007 11:10:30 AM