Three nights a week more than 60 million Americans watch the heroes of "CSI" use high-tech tools to catch the crooks. That's millions of potential jurors hooked on forensic science.
And, as CBS News Correspondent Vince Gonzales reports, that impacts real crime fighters, who call it the "CSI" Effect.
"Jurors now expect us to have a DNA test for just about every case," says Josh Marquis, the District Attorney in Astoria, Oregon. "They expect us to have the most advanced technology possible, and they expect it to look like it does on television."
Marquis says jurors want "CSI"-quality science in the courtroom on his budget. Jurors often expect same-day DNA tests and same-day toxicology reports, both of which he does not have access to. The nearest crime lab is two hours away, and the "CSI" Effect is having an impact there as well.
"Our analysts are being asked to do much more than what we are capable of doing," says the director of the lab, Beth Carpenter.
Anthony E. Zuiker, the creator of the "CSI" franchise, which airs on CBS, says that the show does some fudging for dramatic purposes, but also strives to be accurate.
"There is a profound impact on in the country in terms of jurors because of the show," Zuiker told
"All of the science is accurate and we have real CSI's on staff that help us write the scripts and make sure everything is executed perfectly," says Zuiker.
All of which Zuiker believes is good for the justice system.
"The 'CSI' Effect is in my opinion the most amazing thing that has ever come out of the series," says Zuiker. "People know science now. They watch 'CSI.'"
The judge in Astoria says that's a plus.
"I think it raises the expectation for the police officers, so they do better investigations. Or they should, because if not, they're going to lose cases," said Klatsop County Circuit Judge Paula Brownhill.
But not every case has slam-dunk scientific proof, and that worries prosecutors.
"We're hearing stories where people, jurors will come back and say: 'There was no DNA test. I expected that. And without that I'm not convinced,'" says District Attorney Marquis.
Baltimore prosecutors blamed the "CSI" Effect when jurors acquitted a man of murder, even though there were two eyewitnesses.
Now Marquis always asks jurors if they watch "CSI."
"I would want them to know that this is a TV program that is based on reality but is not reality," Marquis says.
Zuiker, "CSI's" creator, agrees, but says jurors shouldn't ignore the science on his show because: "that is real."
And so is the popularity of "CSI." So stay in tune for more TV shows in which the characters wear white: white lab coats.