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Crime Scene Investigation and Evidence Collection

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What is the primary purpose of processing a crime scene?

To identify, collect, and preserve physical evidence

According to the transfer of evidence theory, what occurs when two objects come into contact?

Evidence is transferred from one object to another

What is the primary reason why trace evidence is important in a criminal investigation?

It can provide a link between the crime scene and the suspect

Who is responsible for protecting the crime scene?

The first responder

What is the purpose of a crime scene investigation kit?

To collect and analyze evidence at the crime scene

What is the chronological order of processing a crime scene?

Document, search, collect, and preserve

What is the purpose of collecting physical evidence from a crime scene?

To aid in determining the truth during an investigation

What is the importance of documenting the location where evidence was located and/or seized?

To ensure the integrity of the evidence

Why is DNA analysis important in crime investigations?

To aid in determining the truth during an investigation

What is the purpose of marking evidence?

To identify the evidence

What is the purpose of packaging evidence?

To preserve the evidence

What is the importance of collecting non-fingerprint impressions from a crime scene?

To aid in identifying the suspect

Why is it important to maintain an accurate and complete chain of custody on packaged evidence?

To maintain the integrity of the evidence

What is the importance of collecting blood samples from a crime scene?

To aid in identifying the suspect

Why is it important to document the procedure for collecting, marking, and packaging evidence?

To maintain the integrity of the evidence

What is the importance of collecting cartridges and shell casings from a crime scene?

To aid in identifying the suspect

What is the primary source of physical evidence in a crime?

The crime scene

What is the term used to describe the minute or microscopic bits of materials transferred between surfaces during a crime?

Trace evidence

What is the theory that states that whenever two surfaces come into contact, there is a partial transfer of material from one surface to the other?

The transfer of evidence theory

What is an example of physical evidence that can be transferred from a suspect's clothing to a victim's clothing during a struggle?

Fibers

What is the purpose of trace evidence in a crime investigation?

To establish the identity of the offender

What is an example of physical evidence that can be transferred from a vehicle to a pedestrian's body in a hit-and-run accident?

All of the above

Why is trace evidence often overlooked by criminals?

Because it is small and may not be perceived as important

What is the term used to describe the physical evidence that is transferred from one surface to another during a crime?

Transfer evidence

What is an example of physical evidence that can be found on a suspect's clothing after a crime?

Glass fragments

What is the main purpose of a crime scene search?

To collect physical evidence

What is the primary purpose of a crime scene search?

To look for clues and evidence, and reconstruct the crime

What is the first step in protecting the crime scene?

Sealing off the crime scene

What type of evidence may be found in homicide, assault, and burglary cases?

All of the above

Why is it essential to protect the crime scene?

To prevent evidence from being destroyed

What is the purpose of sketching the crime scene?

To create a visual representation of the scene

What is the role of the first officer on the scene?

To seal off the crime scene and protect it

What is the purpose of videotaping the crime scene?

To create a visual record of the crime scene

What is the typical number of steps in a properly processed crime scene?

12

What is the purpose of maintaining the chain of custody of physical evidence?

To maintain the integrity of the evidence

What is the purpose of packaging and transporting physical evidence?

To preserve the evidence for further analysis

What is the main purpose of dividing a search area into zones?

To ensure a thorough search

Which of the following is NOT a search method?

Random

What type of gloves are recommended for a crime scene investigation kit?

Plastic

What is the main advantage of the 'wheel' search method?

It starts from the center

What is used to remove ink from fingerprint cards?

Ink remover

What is the primary purpose of a magnifying glass in a crime scene investigation kit?

To examine small evidence

Which of the following is NOT a type of tape commonly used in a crime scene investigation kit?

Duct tape

What is the main purpose of using chalk in a crime scene investigation?

To mark evidence

Which of the following is a common tool used in fingerprinting?

Brushes

What is the main advantage of using a 'spiral' search method?

It is useful for exterior searches

What is the primary purpose of crime scene photography?

To provide a photographic record of the facts

Why should photographs of a crime scene be taken from multiple angles?

To identify location of evidence, weapons, body, or other important details

What type of photographs are used to record each item or small sections of a larger surface?

Close-up view photographs

Why are multiple photographs of evidence taken, one with and one without a measuring device?

To show the scale of the evidence

What is an important aspect to consider when determining the admissibility of photographic evidence in court?

The relevance of the photograph to the case

What type of photographs are used to record the overall scene, including landmarks and terrain?

Exterior crime scene photographs

Why are photographs taken of the entire body of a victim in a death scene investigation?

To record the condition of the victim

What is the purpose of photography in burglary scenes?

All of the above

Why are photographs taken of the area beneath a victim's body in a death scene investigation?

To identify potential evidence that may have been hidden

What is the purpose of taking photographs of shoe, tire, and similar impressions?

To provide a permanent record of the impression

What is the primary responsibility of municipal personnel when delivering evidence to the lab?

Deliver evidence to the lab in person or utilize their respective department procedure

What is the main purpose of forensic science?

To apply science to law

What is the importance of maintaining a chain of custody?

To establish the integrity of the evidence and demonstrate that only authorized persons had control of it

What type of evidence can the crime lab process?

Most anything that can be preserved and protected, and transported from a scene

What is the purpose of discussing the unique attributes of different types of crime labs?

To understand the capabilities of the crime labs available to the law enforcement community

What is the importance of getting a receipt when turning evidence over to anyone?

To maintain a record of the transfer of evidence

What is the main advantage of sketches over diagrams?

Sketched are more clear and less cluttered

What is the primary purpose of triangulation in diagramming?

To measure the distance between objects

What information should be included on packaged evidence?

Officer's name, complaint number, victim's name, suspect's name, date, and contents

What is the primary purpose of photographs in recording a crime scene?

To supplement still photography

What is the purpose of an evidence receipt?

To track the chain of custody of the evidence

Why are sketches preferred over diagrams in certain situations?

Sketches are necessary for court testimony

What is essential when collecting physical evidence?

Carefully handling the evidence to prevent alteration or damage

What is the purpose of using symbols in sketches and diagrams?

To clarify the representation of objects and evidence

What is the primary purpose of video in crime scene investigation?

To supplement still photography

Why is it important to properly mark evidence?

To identify the evidence in court

What is the primary advantage of using cross-projection diagrams?

They are more suitable for interior scenes

Why is it important to maintain a separate evidence receipt for evidence packaged to go to the laboratory and evidence to go to the evidence custodian?

To ensure the chain of custody is maintained

What is the responsibility of the officer-in-charge of the crime scene?

To protect the crime scene and preserve its integrity

What is the primary purpose of marking evidence?

To identify the evidence at a later time

What is the purpose of sketching the crime scene?

To identify the location of evidence

What is the purpose of using different types of evidence containers?

To ensure the evidence is preserved and protected

Why is proper chain of custody important?

To ensure the integrity of the evidence

What is essential when collecting evidence?

Documenting the location and time of collection

Why is it important to leave evidence in its original state?

To ensure the integrity of the evidence

What is the purpose of noting the location of evidence on a sketch of the crime scene?

To identify the location of evidence

Study Notes

Crime Scene Processing and Documentation

  • Importance of Physical Evidence: Physical evidence is crucial in criminal investigations as it does not lie, cannot be impeached, and is not affected by the sensationalism of the crime.
  • Types of Physical Evidence: Examples include fingerprints, weapons, bullets, blood, hair, skin scrapings, clothing, and documents.

Transfer of Evidence Theory

  • Definition: The transfer of evidence theory states that when two surfaces come into contact, there is a partial transfer of material from one surface to the other.
  • Examples: Transfer of evidence can occur through contact between a suspect's shoe and a crime scene surface, or between a suspect's clothing and a victim's clothing.

Crime Scene Searches

  • Definition of a Crime Scene: A crime scene is the place where the crime occurred, including any adjoining entry and exit points.
  • Purpose of Crime Scene Search: The main purpose of a crime scene search is to look for clues and evidence and to reconstruct the crime.
  • Protecting the Crime Scene: The first officer on the scene is responsible for protecting the crime scene, which includes sealing off the area, removing and separating witnesses, and conducting a preliminary survey of the crime scene.
  • 12 Steps of a Properly Processed Crime Scene: The 12 steps include approaching the crime scene, protecting the crime scene, removing and separating witnesses, conducting a preliminary survey, writing a narrative description, photographing the crime scene, sketching the crime scene, processing the crime scene for latent impressions, conducting a detailed search, collecting and preserving evidence, packaging and transporting evidence, and maintaining the chain of custody.

Crime Scene Photography

  • Purpose of Crime Scene Photography: The primary purpose of crime scene photography is to provide a photographic record of the facts, quickly and accurately, and to clearly and convincingly show what happened on the crime scene.
  • Types of Crime Scene Photographs: Three types of photographs are taken: overall (general) views, medium views, and close-up views.
  • Examples of Photographs to Take at a Crime Scene: Photographs should be taken of the exterior and interior of the crime scene, including any evidence found, fingerprints, and areas of special attention such as points of entry and exit.

Evidence Collection and Preservation

  • Importance of Documenting Evidence: Evidence should be documented in detail, including the location where it was found and the conditions under which it was found.

  • Responsibility of the Officer: The officer responsible for collecting and preserving evidence is also responsible for protecting the crime scene and ensuring that the evidence is properly packaged and transported.

  • Chain of Custody: The chain of custody must be maintained from the time the evidence is collected until the time it is presented in court.### Role of Photography in Evidence Collection

  • Officers can use a business card with a ruler printed on the reverse side as a measuring device.

  • Photography helps clarify the physical appearance of items that are hard to describe.

  • It can reproduce shoe, tire, and similar impressions that cannot be recorded in any other way.

  • Photography is useful for documenting crime scenes, especially before attempting to lift or cast impressions.

Admissibility of Photographic Evidence

  • Each trial court determines the admissibility of photographic evidence for that trial.
  • The item pictured must be material, competent, and relative to the point in issue.
  • The photo must not be inflammatory or appeal to emotions or prejudice the court or jury.
  • Judges sometimes suppress photos of mutilated bodies, blood-stained clothes, or human genitalia.
  • Photos must be free from distortion and truly represent the scene.
  • The photographer or witness must be able to state that the photo is a true representation of the scene.
  • Proper chain of custody must be followed, as with any other type of evidence.

Video Evidence

  • Video is an additional resource for recording and documenting crime scenes.
  • Video cannot replace still photography but can supplement the investigator's work.
  • Video is typically used to record crime scenes, re-enactments, confessions, and to supplement still photographs.

Evidence Collection

  • Proper discovery, collection, and handling of evidence are necessary for its eventual use in a case investigation and prosecution.
  • Always put the time, date, location, and initials on every piece of evidence.
  • Care must be taken when collecting physical evidence to maintain its original condition and prevent alteration or damage.
  • Four things must be done to properly maintain the integrity of physical evidence:
    • It must be maintained in its original state and not be altered.
    • A chain of custody must be maintained, complete and as short as possible.
    • The evidence must be properly packaged to prevent damage and maintain its original state.
    • The evidence must be properly marked to be identified in court and not damaged.

Officer Responsibilities

  • The officer assigned to the crime scene is responsible for preserving and collecting evidence.
  • The officer-in-charge of the scene must protect the scene before the crime scene technician arrives to preserve its integrity.

Marking and Packaging Evidence

  • Evidence is marked to identify it at a later time, such as in court.
  • The generally accepted method of marking evidence is to place the officer's initials and DSN on an inconspicuous part of the evidence.
  • Firearms should have a lead seal or evidence tag attached to them.
  • Items that cannot be marked (e.g., hair, liquids, drugs) should be placed in an appropriate evidence container, and the officer's initials and DSN can be placed on the container.

Packaging Evidence

  • The purpose of packaging evidence is to ensure it retains its original condition until processed by the crime scene laboratory or presented in court.
  • Evidence gathered from different sources (scene, suspect, victim) must be packaged separately to prevent contamination.
  • Various evidence containers are used, including cardboard boxes, evidence bags, pill boxes, paper bags, plastic bags, mason jars, and weighing papers.

Transporting Evidence

  • Evidence receipts are prepared any time evidence is tagged or packaged.
  • A separate receipt is made for evidence packaged to go to the laboratory and evidence to go to the evidence custodian.
  • A separate receipt is made for firearms turned into the lab for test firing.
  • Chain of custody must be maintained to establish the integrity of the evidence and demonstrate that only authorized persons had control of it.

This module covers the fundamentals of crime scene processing, including identifying evidence sources, search methods, and collecting and preserving evidence.

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