As a Member of The International Association of Forensic Toxicologists (TIAFT), I agree to conduct myself in a professional manner, in accordance with the following ethical principles. I understand if I behave in a manner detrimental to the organization or the profession of forensic toxicology in general, I may be censured or expelled from membership.


Members agree to:

  1. Perform professional activities with honesty, integrity and objectivity.
  2. Refrain from knowingly misrepresenting professional qualifications including, but not limited to: education, training, experience, certification, area of expertise, and professional memberships.
  3. Hold in confidence and refrain from misusing information obtained or received in the course of professional activities.
  4. Provide expert advice and opinions within the limits of individual competence and generally accepted scientific principles.
  5. Render testimony in a truthful manner without bias or misrepresentation.
  6. Refrain from exercising professional or personal conduct adverse to the best interests and objectives of TIAFT.

Preamble

The Code of Ethics is intended to create a culture of proper ethical behavior and professional responsibility among TIAFT members. The concepts presented here have been drawn from the (American) Society of Forensic Toxicologists (SOFT), which in turn has relied on other professional codes and suggestions made by leaders in the forensic community. The Code has been vetted and adopted by the TIAFT Executive with the expectation that forensic toxicologists and forensic toxicology laboratory personnel and management will use them in training sessions, performance evaluations, disciplinary decisions, and as guides in other professional and management decisions. It is important that all individuals engaged in forensic toxicology are equally aware of this Code and incorporate the principles into their daily work.

This Code provides a framework for describing ethical and professional responsibilities in the forensic community. While not all inclusive, they describe key areas and provide some specific rules to supplement the existing Code of Ethics adopted by TIAFT.

Professionalism

The ethical and professionally responsible forensic toxicologist:

  1. Is independent, impartial, detached, and objective, approaching all tests and examinations with due diligence and an open mind;
  2. Conducts full and fair toxicological tests and examinations of exhibits. All conclusions are based on the evidence and reference material relevant to the evidence, not on extraneous information, political pressure, or other outside influences;
  3. Is aware of their own limitations and only renders conclusion that are within their area of expertise and about matters which they have given formal consideration;
  4. Honestly communicates with all parties (the investigator, prosecutor, defense, and where relevant other expert witnesses) about all information relating to their analyses and opinions, when communications are permitted by law and Institutional practice;
  5. Reports to the appropriate legal or administrative authorities unethical, illegal, scientifically questionable conduct or impaired competence;
  6. Takes appropriate action if there is potential for, or there has been, a miscarriage of justice due to circumstances that have come to light, including incompetent practice or malpractice;
  7. Reports conflicts between their ethical/professional responsibilities and applicable agency policy, law, regulation, or other legal authority, and attempt to resolve them;
  8. Does not accept or participate in any case on a contingency fee basis or in which they have any other personal or financial conflict of interest or an appearance of such a conflict.

Competency and Proficiency

The ethical and professionally responsible forensic toxicologist:

  1. Is committed to career‐long learning in the forensic disciplines in which they practice and staying abreast of new technologies and techniques. Conclusions and opinions are based on generally accepted and validated tests and procedures;
  2. Is properly trained and determined to be competent through testing by an authority or more senior forensic toxicologist prior to conducting analytical tests and/or producing other types of evidence;
  3. Gives utmost care to the treatment of any samples or items of potential evidentiary value to avoid tampering, adulteration, loss or unnecessary consumption of the specimens/exhibits.

Clear Communications

The ethical and professionally responsible forensic toxicologist:

  1. Accurately represents their education, training, experience, and area of expertise;
  2. Presents accurate and complete data in reports, testimony, publications and oral presentations;
  3. Makes and retains full, contemporaneous, clear and accurate records of all examinations and tests conducted, and conclusions drawn, in sufficient detail to allow meaningful review and assessment of the conclusions by an independent person competent in the field (note: this may be in the form of electronic means);
  4. Prepares reports in which facts, opinions and interpretations are clearly distinguishable, and which clearly describe any limitations on the methods, interpretations and opinions presented;
  5. Does not alter reports or other records, or withhold information from reports for strategic or tactical litigation advantage;
  6. Supports sound scientific techniques and practices and do not use their positions to pressure an examiner or technician to arrive at conclusions or results that are not supported by data;
  7. Testifies to results obtained and conclusions reached only when they have confidence that the opinions are based on good scientific principles and methods. Opinions are to be stated so as to be clear in their meaning.