Follow the instructions in the University of Phoenix Material: Evidence-Tracking Instructions, which are located in the Week Three Assessment section of the student website, to gain access to the DNA Initiative website (https://letraining.dna.gov). The website provides access to several different crime scenes and scenarios that are used for this assignment.
Explore the chosen scenario from the University of Phoenix Material: Evidence-Tracking Instructions to learn enough information to complete the assignment.
Write a 1,400- to 1750-word paper in which forensic and other evidence found at the selected crime scene is tracked from collection through presentation. Include the following:
Brief description of the chosen scenario
Two different types of collected evidence
Sources of the evidence
Proper collection procedures
Instructions on how to record the evidence
Chain of evidence
Preservation of evidence
Proper presentation methods for different types of evidence
Consequences of mishandling evidence
Format your paper consistent with APA guidelines. When writing your paper, be sure to separate paragraphs and each new section/category should be titled in bold. This will make for a very presentable, easy read. Also – prior to submittal – be sure to review anything the spell and grammar checker may have prompted. Numerous spelling and/or grammar errors will result in a loss of points.
The scenario, in this case, is a double murder and being the first respondent is a crucial factor. The officer who responds should make sure that time is observed and hence they should arrive at the crime scene as soon as possible after responding to the 911 call. Certain procedures must be followed on arrival at the crime scene.
Crime scene procedures
- The reporting officer
should always make sure that the crime scene is secure before anything else. It
involves looking at the state of the victim and determining the situation of
the offender. The offender might be arrested or could have fled away.
- The officer should determine the state of the victim and render help if it is deemed necessary.
- The extent of the crime including all collateral damage is determined by the officer. It helps in identifying all the emergency services that could be needed.
- The scene should be secured from unnecessary intruders and other contamination. It contributes to protecting all the evidence at the scene.
- The responding officer must then make contact with the supervising officer and notify him of the crime and the scene as well.
- Nothing should be touched at the site unless it is necessary. All disruptions to the original scene should be well documented too.
- The officer should then have a chat with the 911 callers to get the first-hand information.
- All the evidence at the site is then documented carefully and in detail.
- The officer should gauge the severity of the crime scene and determine whether to interview the witnesses or call for backup. In some cases, witnesses could be taken into custody.
All items in the scene that may contain DNA are secured to avoid tampering (2016). Areas such as:
- The open door
- Blood drops
- Coffee table
- Broken lamp piece
Once all the above items are documented, the officer now starts the investigation to solve the homicide.
Types of Collected Evidence
The evidence collected at a crime scene could be physical or testimonial (Hails, 2012). In this case, the physical evidence could be in the open door and the coffee table among other areas. The biological evidence is to be found in the DNA results of the crime scene. Testimonial evidence may be gathered from the witnesses upon conducting interviews.
Sources of the Evidence
The source of the evidence is in the crime scene. The physical evidence is found in the positioning of every item of proof at the crime scene. The open door is noted, down to the angle and placement. When a real crime scene view is conducted, the location of all items, as well as the physical positioning of the victim, is documented.
The biological evidence is mainly found in the DNA samples. The reason why it is important to safeguard a crime scene from unnecessary intrusion is to avoid tampering of the DNA (Bertino & Bertino, 2012). All items that may contain DNA are collected carefully for further analysis in the crime labs.
Interviewing the witnesses and 911 callers enables the officer to gather further evidence.
Proper Collection Procedures
The respondent to a crime scene has the responsibility of ensuring accurate data is collected from the scene. The officer should survey the crime scene first to determine how best to go about data collection. It includes making proper notes of the whole scene and determining whether any special equipment or personnel is required.
The scene should be thoroughly inspected to find out even the trace evidence that may be in the form of fallen hairs or even footprints (Hails, 2012). The biological evidence is also collected and packaged well for transportation to the labs for further forensic analysis. Photography is critical in any crime scene and hence officers responding to a homicide should take as many accurate pictures as possible from various angles. The long view, medium and close-up view photographs of the scene should be taken to establish the exact state of the scene.
Once the biological and physical evidence is noted, they are well recorded in summary form to corroborate the pictures taken. The methods used to collect the data should be careful not to tamper with the DNA or other evidence.
Recording the Evidence
Data collection and recording may cross lanes in some cases involving a homicide scene. When all the information has been collected, it should be recorded down in an orderly fashion that depicts how the evidence was entered from the first moment the officer entered the crime scene. A well-recorded list of proof of an event helps to sell a convincing story to the jury (Hails, 2012).
A crime scene sketch could be used to document the crime scene as it were. All the sketches must be well marked and labeled. Photographs used to collect the data could be entered into the records and marked accordingly too. If it is possible to record a video of the crime scene, it is better to do so.
Chain of Evidence
A chain of proof is vital since it details all the evidence collected from the first moment the investigator entered the crime scene (Bertino & Bertino, 2012). It is important for the investigator to tag and mark the evidence accurately to make further analysis easier. Tagging and marking evidence also helps to increase the credibility of the item collected as evidence.
Chain of evidence involves written records from the responding officer to corroborate the elements collected as evidence. It helps to establish the authenticity of the evidence items in a court of law. The chain of evidence contributes to establishing certain conditions including:
- Date and time of collecting
- All people who came into contact with evidence
- Circumstances for handling the evidence
- Any changes, or lack thereof, in the evidence
The information at the crime scene should be well documented, and the forensic technician must be very keen not to leave out any critical material (Hails, 2012). Before the data can be processed, the forensic analyst must make sure that certain actions are done:
- The analyst must
interview the responding officer to ascertain the theory of the case and to
determine how the crime occurred. Other evidence may be unearthed when the
whole crime is unraveled.
- The analyst examines the scene to determine the nature of the homicide and compare it with the reported version of events. All physical evidence present is also noted.
- Photographs of the scene are taken to ascertain credibility and to preserve the original scene. The overall view of the crime scene, as well as individual items of evidence, are photographed separately.
- The analyst then sketches the crime scene as it were including the location and positioning of the body of the victim.
Once all the evidence has been determined, it is categorized as either physical or testimonial. The evidence is then collected carefully and stored in the appropriate manner for future use in the laboratory or court.
Examination of the evidence found at a crime scene helps in developing an accurate reconstruction of the homicide that occurred. The reconstruction of the offense is the presentation of the actual evidence that is found at the crime scene. All evidence in the scene is processed using modern tools and techniques such as lasers. The accurate information is used by trained analysts to reconstruct the homicide to find proof of the involvement of the guilty party (Bertino & Bertino, 2012). For an interpretation to stick, it must be corroborated by well-researched evidence from the scene.
Preservation of Evidence
It is important to preserve your evidence and make sure that it remains in the original state in which it was collected from the scene. Different types of data will require different methods of preservation. Small portable items from the crime scene such as the ashtray and broken piece of the lamp should be wrapped in airtight plastic bags for further lab analysis. Other areas like the door and coffee table should be dusted for fingerprints at the scene. Other items such as stray hair samples and blood are also collected and put in airtight bags to be carried to the lab.
Proper presentation methods for different types of evidence
Evidence has to be presented in a court of law to convince the jury that the crime was conducted by the particular defendant. In the case of physical evidence, such as the dead person in our homicide case, photographs can be used to present proof in court. A video of the crime scene could also be used to introduce the event in court.
In the case of biological evidence such as the blood stains or even hair samples, the pieces of evidence can be cataloged. The cataloged information is presented in court in the form of exhibits. DNA sampling is done on such evidence to ascertain the source of the blood.
Interviews with the 91 callers or witnesses at sight could also be recorded. Such recordings can be played back in court to present the jury with the information as it came from the scene.
The maps and sketches that had been prepared by the analysts can also be used to present a case in court.
Consequences of Mishandling Evidence
There are grave consequences that could arise
in the case where evidence has been mishandled in any way. It is crucial to
ensure that forensic analysts are very well skilled in handling the evidence.
The evidence collected from the crime scene holds a lot of weight in a court of
law and also plays a significant part in influencing the decision of the jury.
Therefore, it is important to ensure that the ethical standards if forensic
experts are high so as to avoid evidence manipulation. When evidence is
tampered with, innocent people could be pronounced guilty or vice versa.
Hails, J. (2012). Criminal evidence. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.
Bertino, A. J., & Bertino, P. N. (2012). Forensic Science: Fundamentals & Investigations. Mason, OH: South-Western Cengage Learning.
(2016). Retrieved 4 October 2016, from https://letraining.training.nij.gov/Homicide