The Importance of Blood Spatter in Forensic Science

Blood and its traces, as well as blood spatter, have an important forensic value. They are the subject of expertise much more often than other types of material evidence, subject to forensic investigation. In forensic medicine, blood is examined in the biological department to determine the presence, species, group and other affiliation of blood traces. Experts from the medical-forensic departments set the mechanism and conditions for the formation of blood traces in order to recreate retrospectively the circumstances of the incident. For this purpose, various classifications of blood spatter are used, having a common basis, but considering this phenomenon (the process of trace formation) from different positions. In view of the above, the purpose of the work is to develop theoretical provisions for the forensic classification of blood spatter.

To achieve the goal, the following tasks were set:

  • to study the existing classification of blood traces, reflecting the morphology and mechanism of their formation, as well as the circumstances of injury;
  • to develop a kind of own forensic systematization of blood traces, taking into account their general and particular morphology, mechanism and conditions for their formation.

Observing research methods, it can be said that for the achievement of the above stated goals and objectives of the study there were used general scientific and special methods, in particular: system-structural analysis, observation, description, formal logic method – analysis and synthesis, induction and deduction, comparison, analogy, and generalization.

The research material was scientific and special literature. The object of this study is the practice of expert evaluation of blood traces, as reflected in the scientific medical literature; theoretical forensics. The subject of research includes the patterns that manifest themselves in the morphology of blood traces under various mechanisms and circumstances of their occurrence.

Exploring results of the research, it can be noted that in forensic literature, there are many classifications of blood spatter, the main difference of which is the use of various criteria for their systematization.

In the works of MacDonnel (1971) and Wolson (1997), there can be found attempts to develop a conceptual, terminological description and differentiation of traces of blood in a geometric form. Moreover, Sutton (1993) indicated that the detected blood might have the appearance of a blood puddle or blood spatter (from sprinkling vessels, when sprayed with a hurting tool), a kind of falling drop, or wiped and smeared blood. Wonder (2007) put a specific emphasis on round and oval-shaped bloodstains, drips, blots, blood imprints of hands and feet, puddles. Bloodied fingerprints with distinguishable fingerprint patterns have a particular importance to the possibility of identifying the perpetrators. Thus, in the forensic classification of blood traces by morphological features, one should distinguish: spots, spatter, drips, smears and blots, prints and puddles.

Researching the dependence of the nature of blood traces and blood spatter on the mechanism of their formation, Horswell (2004) mentioned that under the mechanism of the formation of blood traces, there can be implied the totality of movements of blood particles as a result of external bleeding (volume of spilled blood, speed of movement of blood particles, multiplicity and duration of bleeding). In the forensic medical literature, according to Bevel & Gardner 92008), it is not uncommon to embed another content in the concept of the mechanism for the formation of blood traces — the circumstances of their formation. In this connection, the literature review on this issue is presented in different works. For instance, James & Eckert (1999) stated that based on the mechanism of formation, isolated simple traces of blood could be divided on spots, spatter, drips, smears and blots, prints and puddles. Shelton (2012) emphasized that the study of patterns of formation of traces of blood at the scene led to the need to classify them according to the mechanism of trace. Pepper (2005) proposed to divide the detected objects into tracks in a narrow and broad sense. By traces, in the narrow sense, it is possible to understand the individual traces of the mappings of the external structure of objects that trasology studies. In a broad sense, according to Ruble (2009), this is a set of traces of blood left at the crime scene, which are the subject of a criminological study.

Thus, the value of blood spatter for the investigative practice is great. Blood spatter make it possible to judge the height of the source of bleeding. Moreover, blood spatter show the nature of the injured vessel, the damaged area of the body, the impact force, the position of the perpetrator and the victim, the source of bleeding in relation to the barrier, the angle of incidence, the speed of movement of the object and the person who is injured, the position of the person and the instrument of injury, etc.


Bevel, T. & Gardner, R. (2008). Bloodstain Pattern Analysis. CRC Press.

Horswell, J. (2004). The Practice of Crime Scene Investigation. Taylor & Francis.

James, S. & Eckert, W. (1999). Interpretation of Bloodstain Evidence of Crime Scenes, 2nd ed. CRC Press.

MacDonnel, H. (1971). Interpretation of Bloodstains Physical Considerations. Appleton, Century Crofts.

Pepper, I. (2005). Crime Scene Investigation: Methods and Procedures. Open University Press.

Ruble, R. (2009). Round Up the Usual Suspects: Criminal Investigation in Law & Order, Cold Case, and CSI. Praeger.

Shelton, D. (2012). Forensic Science Evidence: Can the Law Keep Up with Science? LFB Scholarly.

Sutton, T. (1993). Bloodstain Pattern Analysis in Violent Crimes. University of Tennessee Press.

Wolson, T. (1997). Bloodstain Pattern Analysis Workshop Manual. Metropolitan Police Institute.

Wonder, A. (2007). Bloodstain Pattern Evidence: Objective Approaches and Case Applications. Elsevier.

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[Accessed: June 1, 2020]

"The terms offer and acceptance.", 17 May 2016

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"The terms offer and acceptance.", 17 May 2016

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