Hair as Evidence: An Analysis

Hair evidence is one of the most common forms of testimony in criminal prosecutions. Hair and other animal fibres include important indicators, and details on chemical composition, colour treatment, geographic location, the rate of development, size, appearance and feeding patterns including various cosmetic effects, including species identification the hair analysis also includes the individual’s medical history of medications, serological detection, traditional evidence such as toxicological evaluations and opioid use examinations. The value of hair has been identified in the field of individual identity in the last fifty years , based on its microscopic, elemental examination and genomic DNA from hair root cells, followed by mitochondria DNA exams from the shaft where hair structure is correlated with another environmental area, morphological and other surface studies including studies of transmission. The hair examination provided assistance to classify offenders in forensic and other judicial enquiries, and the report. The subsequent article aims to provide for the various characteristics of the hair that can be used in the search. This article tries to answer how is hair used as an evidence? What is the scientific basis for the examining the hair? To what extent does hair help in criminal investigation? How can hair be used as DNA evidence? And the relevant case laws have been discussed.

Introduction:

Edmond Locard was the first forensic scientist to formally articulate the foundation for the transfer event (Locard 1930).[1] Now known colloquially as the Locard Exchange Principle, it states that any time there is contact between two surfaces, an exchange of materials will occur. One of the materials that can be readily collected, identified, and compared is hair evidence.

Hair can significantly help in criminal investigation. There have been many instances and cases in which hair has been proved to be very helpful in establishing the scope of the crime scene, helping the officers to connect a link or giving direction to the investigation.

Hair evidence is one of the most common forms of testimony in criminal prosecutions. In a natural hair development period, the hair of entities becomes easily lost, and during a crime, these hairs can be moved. Examination of hair also provides the medical history of the individual regarding therapies, serological identification along with the conventional information including toxicological assessments and drug addiction testing.

The forensic analysis of hair evidence can be extremely valuable in the examination of physical evidence by:

(1) proving that a suspect or a suspect and a victim could be associated with a crime scene,

(2) proof that a link between a suspect and a crime scene or a suspect and a victim is not demonstrated. Although the science of microscopic hair examinations can never be identified, which means it can be concluded that one-person hair came from one individual, excluding all other hair examinations, the large amount of macroscopic and microscopic information available in hair analysis can provide a solid basis for a partnership and certainly provides strong exculpatory information.

Hair as an evidence: Case laws

Hair can significantly help in criminal investigation. There has been many instances and cases in which hair has been proved to be very helpful in establishing the scope of the crime scene, helping the officers to connect a link or giving direction to the investigation.

In several cases, hair analysis has been used to obtain the conviction or has been an aid to the investigation. Some case laws instances are as follows:

Gura Singh v. State of Rajasthan[2]

Forensic science laboratory which found a hair to be of human head after examining the morphological analysis. Numerous other items were submitted to the Forensic Science Laboratory for examination, for example a bed sheet, turbans and pair of shoes.

The hair was contrasted to that of the body of his department and it was considered from the examination to be appropriate to say and link the criminal with the criminal activity on which he had been correctly charged that the human hair and the sheet had been contaminated with blood. Hair was seen as an important element in this trial which supported the detective, and the lawsuit was thus dropped.

In a suspected murder, in which two woman’s carved bodies had been discovered in the ruins of their houses that had burnt to the ground, officers investigated some half-branded clothing, some partially sung hair and a number of other fragmentary items.  Substantial blood in unburned parts of the fabric was discovered, but since it was at a very high temperature, the corpuscles could not be recovered adequately to determine whether or not the animals were in the home at the time of the burning.[3]

In case a husband is accused of hammering at his wife, it would generally be of little value to locate a hair on a hammer that may be connected microscopically to the victim. Nevertheless, the association ‘s importance increases considerably if the hair itself displays microscopic features of being compressed or damaged. Similarly, it should not be uncommon to discover hairs microscopically linked to a deceased in the trunk of her wife’s car because those hairs showed signs of decomposition and indicated they had been deposited sometime after death.[4]

Conclusion:

The law of evidence, also known as the rules of evidence, encompasses the rules and legal principles that govern the proof of facts in a legal proceeding. These rules determine what evidence must or must not be considered by the trier of fact in reaching its decision. Hair with the help of forensics plays the role of catalysts in the criminal investigations.

Hair evidence can provide information about the individual’s breed and can also demonstrate that the hair has been handled chemically, shaved or drawn in a particular manner. Hair evidence may also demonstrate where it is located in the body as well as genetics like blood type or DNA. Hair checks would also help to assess whether a individual was toxic or drug-influenced. Because no active metabolism exists in the hair, many of the drugs are stored in it, offering an ability to trace the past of the person with drug use.

In a criminal investigation, finding biological evidence such as hair proves helpful in establishing the scope of the crime scene, connecting a suspect to a weapon or the crime scene, supporting witness statements, or even connecting different crime scene areas. There have been cases where the suspects with the hair being a catalyst in the investigation has been proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt. For example, Gura Singh v. State of Rajasthan  in this  the hair was compared with the hair taken from the body of the deceased and upon the analysis it was found that the human hair and his sheet was stained with human blood these circumstances were sufficient to tell and connect accused with the commission of crime for which he was rightly held guilty. In this case hair was used as a significant evidence and helped the officer in the investigation and accordingly the case was dismissed. So the hair as an contributing biological evidence[5] in a case plays a role of paramount importance in the criminal investigation

FAQ:

  1. What type of evidence is hair evidence?

Hair is called class evidence and is effective in helping other circumstantial evidence.

  • What are the 4 types of evidence?

There are four types evidence by which facts can be proven or disproven at trial which include:

  • Real evidence;
  • Demonstrative evidence;
  • Documentary evidence; and.
  • Testimonial evidence.
  • Why is hair considered important evidence?

Hair samples are one of the most important resources in the forensic analysis of crime scenes, often providing valuable information that can help to lead to the identification of a suspect or victim.

  • Can hair be used as DNA evidence?

Hair that is cut or shed does not unfortunately contain any nuclear DNA. For hair DNA testing to be successful the hair must have the hair follicle attached.

  • What are the three main ways to pick up hair evidence at a crime scene?

An investigator can gather hair from a wide range of surfaces such as clothes (with         tweezer or by hand) and use transparent belt for growing non-visible hair.

  • How long will the police retain proof?

The reports of unrecognized incidents must be kept for at least 6 years from the day the police report. Forces will be mindful that these are limited times and that, if appropriate, they will keep evidence of undetected crime for longer.

References:


[1]https://go.gale.com/ps/anonymous?id=GALE%7CA199794783&sid=googleScholar&v=2.1&it=r&linkaccess=abs&issn=15288005&p=AONE&sw=w#:~:text=Edmond%20Locard%20was%20the%20first,exchange%20of%20materials%20will%20occur.

[2] https://indiankanoon.org/doc/928028/

[3] https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/3220621.pdf

[4] https://archives.fbi.gov/archives/about-us/lab/forensic-science-communications/fsc/april2009/review/2009_04_review02.htm

[5] https://www.crimemuseum.org/crime-library/forensic-investigation/biological-evidence-hair/#:~:text=Often%2C%20hair%20is%20picked%20up,biological%20evidence%20in%20a%20case.&text=Hair%20evidence%20can%20provide%20information,out%20in%20a%20certain%20way.

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