Legal aspects of identification

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Abstract

All death investigation takes place in a medical, scientific, administrative, and legal environment that is specific to the type of community and legal jurisdiction within which the death occurred. The differences among jurisdictions arise from a variety of interrelated factors including social, religious, political, and legal influences, as well as the development of the medical profession and its specialties. At the most mechanical level, records are generated and retained about who has died. A cause of death is assigned within a registry office inside government bureaucracy, generally by recording on a death register the cause of death given in the report or certificate of the treating doctor. The maintenance of a death register and a birth register has important social implications. A community needs to know information regarding those who make up its population. From a practical perspective, this information is needed to ensure that community services are appropriate to the size and makeup of the population. However, at a deeper level our concerns about threats to our safety generate a desire to find out more about deaths that occur in our community and to understand their causes so that we can feel less threatened. Community and personal grief involve important emotions that can have deep effects on the functioning of individuals, families, and in some cases the whole community. In this environment a society’s ability to independently investigate critical deaths from a perspective that is focused beyond that of any individual professional group, such as scientists, the medical profession, or the police, is important.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Forensic Anthropology and Archaeology
EditorsSoren Blau, Douglas H. Ubelaker
Place of PublicationOxon UK
PublisherRoutledge
Chapter44
Pages642-659
Number of pages17
Edition2nd
ISBN (Electronic)9781315528939
ISBN (Print)9781629583853
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes

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