Apply as a Transfer/Demotion applicant

$38.60-$48.84 hourly / $6,691.00-$8,465.00 monthly / $80,288.00-$101,587.20 yearly

Apply as a Transfer/Demotion applicant

$46.49-$58.82 hourly / $8,058.00-$10,195.00 monthly / $96,699.20-$122,345.60 yearly


Under general supervision, performs duties involved in crime scene investigations and identification of evidence by performing chemical, physical, and microscopic analysis in the laboratory and in the field; interprets the results of findings; prepares materials for presentation in criminal court; appears in court as an expert witness. May specialize in at least one discipline based on agency needs: Latent Prints, Digital Evidence, Biology/DNA, Forensic Anthropology, or Firearms & Toolmarks; and performs other work as required.  

Distinguishing Characteristics

Positions in this series are non-sworn civilian positions within the Sheriff’s and District Attorney’s Office. These classes are distinguished from the sworn officer classes in that persons in these classes do not carry firearms, do not hold peace officer status and responsibilities, and do not undergo peace officer training.

Criminalist I: is the entry level for the criminalist series. Incumbents initially work under supervision, and as experience is gained, they perform a broader range of duties. Incumbents perform routine forensic scientific casework, and receive a substantial amount of on-the-job training, working closely with senior staff member(s).

Criminalist II: is the journey level in the criminalist series. Incumbents independently perform professional forensic services with limited supervision, which includes a variety of skilled and semiskilled forensic work. This class differs from the Criminalist I in that it is responsible for performing technically complex and difficult forensic scientific casework in at least one forensic discipline; also included is providing training, case review, and technical advice to the Criminalist I.

Typical Tasks

Utilizes the instrumentation, equipment, and scientific techniques including, but not limited to, microscopy, photography, and crime scene diagramming; performs laboratory analysis of physical evidence in one or more of the specialty areas of the Forensic Services Laboratory; examines evidence and draws scientific conclusions in conformance with established protocols; conducts crime scene investigations to recover, document, and collect all relevant physical and biological evidence, e.g. latent prints, DNA, toolmarks, footprints, firearms, impression casts, trace evidence, forensic anthropology and digital evidence associated with criminal activity; creates forensic images of original digital evidence; examines evidence utilizing various analytical techniques; searches automated databases to aid in the identification of forensic evidence; maintains documentation verifying chain of custody, case files, and records to preserve the integrity of evidence and examinations performed; prepares investigative reports on laboratory analysis and results; prepares and presents fair and impartial court testimony concerning findings as established by laboratory analyses and interprets findings as a qualified expert witness; may prepare courtroom displays and exhibits; operates, calibrates, troubleshoots, and performs minor repairs and preventive maintenance on laboratory equipment and analytical instruments; interacts with law enforcement personnel to obtain information about evidence and cases and studies and researches new techniques in forensic science.

Employment Standards


Criminalist I

Some knowledge of:

  • Subject matter and practices within an area of specialization, such as Crime Scene Investigation, Photography, Latent Prints, Digital Evidence, Biology/DNA, Firearms & Toolmarks or Forensic Anthropology
  • Principles of forensic science, chemistry, physics, biochemistry, photography, and natural sciences as related to criminalistics
  • Electronic search methods and examination techniques sufficient to access, preserve, and extract appropriate evidence from a variety of media
  • Basic laboratory safety procedures

Criminalist II

Working knowledge of:

  • All of the above
  • Laboratory techniques used for scientific examination of forensic evidence
  • Forensic analysis techniques, laboratory protocols, scientific methodologies, and forensic computer examination procedures sufficient to conduct detailed and complex analyses to interpret the significance of evidentiary items
  • Collecting and preserving physical evidence, scientific research methods, and procedures in the forensic science field

Some knowledge of:

  • Applicable federal, state and local laws, codes, rules, regulations, and statutes
  • Recent developments, current literature, and sources of information in the field of criminalistics


Criminalist I

  • Conduct chemical, biological, physical, microscopic, digital, and other comparative laboratory analysis as required
  • Conduct crime scene investigations and collect evidence in the field
  • Relate pieces of evidence to each other and draw logical conclusions
  • Prepare and maintain clear, accurate and concise reports, records, and case statistics/findings
  • Operate personal computers, Laboratory Information Management Systems and related software
  • Follow oral and written technical instructions
  • Perform assigned tasks according to prescribed procedures
  • Meet timelines and handle multiple and changing priorities, projects, and schedules
  • Comply with laws, regulations, and professional practices governing law enforcement services and operations
  • Research regulations, procedures, and/or technical reference materials
  • Work in a safe and prudent manner
  • Communicate effectively, both verbally and in writing
  • Maintain confidentiality of information Read, understand, and follow departmental policies, rules, instructions, laws, and ordinances
  • Establish and maintain good working relationships with those contacted in the course of work, demonstrating tact diplomacy, patience, and compassion
  • Adhere to employing agency’s code of ethics

Criminalist II

  • Perform all of the above
  • Operate and maintain laboratory instrumentation associated with the assigned forensic discipline, such as various types of microscopes and cameras and laboratory information systems
  • Analyze, interpret, and present statistical data and outcomes to diverse audiences, including law enforcement agencies, the courts, and other agencies
  • Understand, interpret and explain regulations and policies governing the collection and preservation of evidence
  • Present evidence clearly and accurately in court when called to testify as an expert witness
  • Work under physical and mental pressure and in potentially hazardous situations and environments
  • Follow highly technical oral and written instructions

Education and Experience/Training:

Any combination of education and experience which would provide the required knowledge and abilities is qualifying, unless otherwise specified. A typical way to obtain the knowledge and abilities would be:

Criminalist I:

  • Education requirements vary depending on discipline assignment. At a minimum, graduation from an accredited college or university with a bachelor’s degree in forensic science, criminalistics, natural sciences, biological anthropology, computer science, or a closely related field is required.
  • For Forensic Anthropology specialization: an MA or PhD in anthropology with graduate level coursework in human and non-human osteology, forensic anthropology, archaeology, human variation, statistics and dental anthropology is required.
  • For DNA assignment: a bachelor’s degree (or its equivalent) or an advanced degree related to biology, chemistry or forensic science is required and must evidence successful completion of coursework covering the following subject areas: biochemistry, genetics, molecular biology; and coursework and/or training in statistics and/or population genetics as it applies to forensic DNA analysis.

Criminalist II:

  • Meet the education requirements for Criminalist I AND three years of experience performing forensic analysis in Latent Prints, Digital Evidence, Biology/DNA, Firearms & Toolmarks or Forensic Anthropology and Crime Scene Investigation in a local, county, state, and/or federal forensic laboratory or similar setting; a master’s or PhD degree may be substituted for one year of experience.


  • Three years of experience as a Criminalist I at Santa Cruz County or equivalent.
  • For Digital Evidence specialization: Active certification through the International Association of Computer Investigative Specialists as a Certified Forensic Computer Examiner is required to be obtained within the first year of employment as a Criminalist II.
  • For Latent Print specialization: Latent Print Examiner certification is required to be obtained within the first year of employment as a Criminalist II.
  • For Biology/DNA specialization: Possession of a master’s degree is highly desirable For Firearms & Toolmarks specialization: Association of Firearms and Toolmarks Examiners (AFTE) certification in at least one of the following: Firearm, Toolmark, or Gunshot, is required to be obtained within the first year of employment as a Criminalist II.

Desired Qualification:

  • Active certification through the International Association for Identification (IAI) as a crime scene investigator, crime scene analyst, crime scene reconstructionist or senior crime scene analyst is highly desirable.

Special Requirements/Conditions:

  • Mentally and physically capable of performing the classification’s essential functions as summarized in the typical tasks section of this job specification with or without reasonable accommodations.
  • Physical Ability: Tasks require the ability to exert up to 50 pounds of force frequently, and/or up to 20 pounds of force constantly to move objects; typically involving some combination of climbing and balancing, stooping, kneeling, crouching and crawling; and may involve some lifting, carrying, pushing and/or pulling of objects and materials.
  • Sensory Requirements: Requires the ability to recognize and identify similarities and differences between shade, degree or value of colors, shapes, sounds, forms, textures, or physical appearance associated with job-related objects, materials, tasks, or people.
  • Environmental Factors: Exposure to variable temperatures, confined work spaces, and heights; strong unpleasant odors; infectious bio-hazardous materials, such as blood, urine and semen, which might cause chronic disease or death; dust, pollens, chemical irritants; toxic substances; individuals who may be hostile and abusive; evidence that may be disturbing such as homicide evidence.
  • Hours: May be required to work flexible hours, shifts, weekends, and holidays and be subject to holdover and callback duty; and to provide a telephone number or means by which employee can be reached.
  • License Requirement: Possession and maintenance of valid Class C California Driver License issued by the California State Department of Motor Vehicles by the time of appointment.
  • Background Investigation: Ability to pass a full background investigation


Bargaining Unit: 41
EEOC Job Category: 02
Occupational Group: 62
Workers Comp Code: 0285

CLASS: BM1; EST: 7/14/2014; REV: 7/1/2019;
CLASS: BM2; EST: 7/1/2014; REV: 10/1/2014;