Meet the CSI Effect. Due to popular TV shows exaggerating the capabilities and techniques of forensic science in criminal investigations, many jurors have begun to demand a greater amount of evidence from the prosecution during trials, raising the standard of proof needed for a conviction.

CSI effect

The CSI effect, also known as the CSI syndrome and the CSI infection, is any of several ways in which the exaggerated portrayal of forensic science on crime television shows such as CSI: Crime Scene Investigation influences public perception. The term was first reported in a 2004 USA Today article describing the effect being made on trial jurors by television programs featuring forensic science. It most often refers to the belief that jurors have come to demand more forensic evidence in criminal trials, thereby raising the effective standard of proof for prosecutors. While this belief is widely held among American legal professionals, some studies have suggested that crime shows are unlikely to cause such an effect, although frequent CSI vi… Continue Reading (12 minute read)

8 thoughts on “Meet the CSI Effect. Due to popular TV shows exaggerating the capabilities and techniques of forensic science in criminal investigations, many jurors have begun to demand a greater amount of evidence from the prosecution during trials, raising the standard of proof needed for a conviction.”

  1. AudibleNod

    Perry Mason Syndrome was a similar phenomenon where people thought witnesses would just confess under cross-examination.

  2. __fuzz__

    Sister works in forensics. This is a huge pain in the ass for them. Everyone thinks that perps just spray DNA everywhere, shed like dogs, and go around leaving perfect fingerprints. Oh and that there are databases of every single person’s DNA, available to every jurisdiction.

  3. prolixia

    There’s more to it than just that.

    CSI also led to a *massive* increase in the number of applications for forensics courses and jobs. But more importantly it raised awareness of forensic techniques, changing the way that certain crimes were committed. Some criminals became much more forensically aware, taking much greater precautions.

  4. aecht

    Not necessarily a bad thing. Lord knows there are plenty of false convictions

  5. gerbil_111

    You can add phone videos to the list. Juries used to believe police testimony as objective truth. If the cop said the guy lunged, he lunged, and the 20 other eye witnesses were lying. Now you expect the phone video to be available before police issue their official statements.

  6. Jaxster37

    Sounds like a good thing to me. Better than the days of convicting people based off eyewitness testimony alone only to find out years later the witnesses misremembered, lied, or were coerced by prosecutors.

  7. alphamale968

    “Zoom and enhance.”
    “This was recorded on a 20 year old surveillance camera from across the street in the dark.”
    “ZOOM AND ENHANCE!”

  8. Aspiegirl712

    As an analytical chemist who worked in forensic science for a number of years all I can say is you can never have enough science in the processing of evidence. There is still to much pseudoscience in forensic science. We must continue to improve how we process evidence

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