The Importance of Evidence Collection Guidelines in Developing a Prosecutable Case
FBI Crime Scene Forensic Documentation Guidelines should be routinely applied to every crime scene regardless of size or complexity. The narrative reviews each crime scene guideline and identifies the documentation that the prosecutor should anticipate being present. Omitted guideline citations should be questioned because they may imply a defect in the forensic evidence acquisition process. These omissions may provide points of attack by the defense and, consequently, present a reasonable strategy. The FBI documentation guidelines include steps for proper crime scene evidence collection:
- approach scene—discusses the initial approach to the crime scene by the first responder and requires noting temperature and other environmental conditions, any artifacts that may represent evidence, and locating potential witnesses;
- secure and protect—discusses protecting the crime scene in its pristine form;
- preliminary survey;
- guideline narrative description—the survey taken to support the management, organization, and logistical elements of the crime scene;
- photograph scene—examines how to portray the crime scene evidence through photography;
- sketch scene—explains how a crime scene sketch provides spatial relationships that supplant and complement the two-dimensional photographs;
- physical evaluation of the scene;
- continuing evaluation of the evidence—evaluations that are ongoing throughout the scene processing;
- conduct search;
- collect, record, mark, and preserve the evidence;
- conduct final survey; and
- release the crime scene.
To read the full report (NCJ 236848), access the National Criminal Justice Reference Service’s website, http://www.ncjrs.gov.