Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry and Its Use in Crime Labs

GC-MS is a special forensic tool.

Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry and Its Use in Crime Labs

Abbreviated to GC-MS, gas chromatography-mass spectrometry is a top-of-the-line method for analyzing forensic trace evidence in crime labs. With its ability to both isolate and analyze the individual components in mixtures that are otherwise unknown, it is one of the best tools that forensic crime labs can employ. Used in coordination with each other, gas chromatography and mass spectrometry are actually two separate processes.

Gas chromatography separates compounds into their individual parts and analyzes how they react with certain solvents, as well as how long it takes for them to release the solvent, as reported by Chromatography Today. It is used to great extent in forensic science such as in determining the fluids or compounds in a deceased person, testing crime scene samples, and the detection of flammable liquids in arson cases.

As discussed by a Vacuum Science World News, mass spectrometry “measures the mass-to-charge ratio of ions and, in forensic science, one of the best ways for toxicologists to identify and analyze substances.” This makes it extremely useful in assessing unknown agents, with its primary role in crime labs in analyzing drugs, drug metabolites, and drug paraphernalia. It is also used often to study fibers or polymers in trace labs.

GC-MS results are exact and highly specific, making its results, when properly presented, essentially indisputable when used as court evidence.

With that said, there are defenses to GC-MS evidence presented in a criminal case, which can include:

  • Human error.
  • Pipetting error.
  • Insufficient amount of testing sample.
  • Improper handling or storage of samples.
  • Mislabeling of samples.
  • Cross contamination.
  • Improperly calibrated instruments.
  • Software issues.
  • Storm damage to the lab causing chemical spills.



With offices in Lake Havasu City and Scottsdale, our firm serves the entire state of Arizona, with a particular focus on criminal defense, family law, and juvenile cases.

Our goal is for the best outcome for your criminal case, which can include:

  • charges that are reduced or dropped.
  • top experts reviewing your case.
  • aggressive negotiations with the prosecution for plea bargains.
  • fines or probation in lieu of jail time.

At Rideout Law Group, our attorneys are able to expertly examine the evidence in your case to provide a strong strategy for argument that leads to an outcome that is most favorable to you. We have experience in all types of criminal cases for both adults and juveniles, with positive outcomes both in plea negotiations as well as jury trial settings.

Call us today for a free consultation at 480-584-3328.

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