Crimes, unfortunately, can happen anytime and at any place. These crimes can only be solved through comprehensive criminal investigations. Criminal investigation is a series of complex task designed to find major clues and evidences that will make a case solve. In the process of criminal investigations, many people are involved in solving the case. The methods used by the police officers are usually vital in successfully finding the truth. One mistake in the process of investigation may lead to a major problem in succeeding events.
In order to know the effectiveness of criminal investigation in the country, the criminal investigations in the last fifty years and today will be tackled. Background on criminal investigations like its goals, processes and legalities in court will also be presented to give way to the clarity of the critical parts of the investigations. Criminal Investigations and its Goals Legally gathering information and evidences for a crime that has been committed is termed as criminal investigation.
It is an area of law enforcement where highly trained and experienced professionals try to find enough evidences that will make the case successfully prosecuted. Criminal investigators use different techniques in the investigation process. The techniques can only be useful if the investigator have enough skill, knowledge and experience in applying the appropriate techniques in the process. The professional investigator has the sole responsibility of knowing how to use the different tools required in conducting investigations.
The main goal of any criminal investigation is to establish the truth about how a crime occurred. The American legal system’s requirement in convicting a defendant is not absolute proof of his/her guilt but rather the defendant should be proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt. In spite of many safeguards and implemented process in the legal system, it is still possible that an innocent person may be convicted of a crime he/she did not commit. It is the responsibility of the criminal investigator to assure that the conviction of an innocent should not occur.
Finding the truth is a very difficult task to handle. But still, criminal investigators should always keep in mind that their ultimate responsibility is to find the truth to the best they can. It is also a fact that in every investigation where huge efforts of the investigators are present there will always remain unanswered questions. The poorly conducted criminal investigation will hinder he investigator of a real scenario of what really happened, thus, making a weak case against a defendant. It is also difficult to decide whether a defendant is guilty or not if not enough evidence is established.
This may result to two different scenarios, an acquittal of the true criminal or an acquittal of an innocent. And in the American legal system, it is better to acquit a criminal rather that convicting an innocent person. Criminal Investigation and its Processes Criminal investigation’s difference in other kinds of investigations is that it focuses on crimes. According to Paul Tappen, crime is an intentional act in violation of criminal law and is sanctioned by the State as a felony or misdemeanor.
In convicting a defendant, the investigator should prove that the defendant is acting on his/her own will and with the knowledge of possible consequences he/she will be facing upon doing such actions. The defendant should be proven acting intentionally and there is no such defense to be considered in the process. In a criminal investigation there are processes to be followed. Among these processes are stated below: 1) determining if such crime has been committed 2) verifying jurisdiction 3) discover all the evidences and information related to the crime
4) recover stolen property 5) recognize the person/s responsible for the crime 6) capture the person involved or responsible for the crime 7) providing evidences of guilt to the prosecution 8) testify in court The above stated processes act as the core of the entire decision of the juries. How the evidences are presented in the court will primarily give the juries their knowledge of what really happened, thus, gave them there conclusion and verdict. Through the course of criminal investigation, its tools in solving many crimes have improved.
From simple interviewing up to the much sophisticated DNA finger printing and cognitive interview, these tools add up to the clear view of the truth in a criminal investigation. In spite of the advancement of technology, basic tools and procedures in criminal investigative processes is still present today. These basic tools will always be present in a criminal investigative process. Basic criminal investigation processes is composed of: information, instrumentation and interviewing.
Criminal investigation is information based process in which without it, criminal investigation will be difficult to handle. The responsibility of the investigator to gain information related to the crime as many as he/she can, will determine how fast the investigation will take place. The use of forensic science as an instrument in solving crimes is the second major tool in the process. The development of forensic science techniques in solving crimes helped many investigators to come up with strong evidences and conclusions in the crime.
Among these improvements are serology (the study of blood), dactylography (the study of fingerprints and ballistics) and the study of firearms and projectiles. These improvements have proven to be effective in determining the true criminals and in the conviction of them. Another major breakthrough in the field of forensics is the study of deoxyribonucleic acid, DNA analysis. The final tool in the process of investigation is the interview process. Proper and effective interviewing by criminal investigators may lead to information necessary to solve a crime. It may also induce confessions from the victims and other witnesses.
In the 1960’s, the Supreme Court of the United States have given the prosecutors difficult task in having confessions as an evidence, thus, most prosecutors lie on physical evidences. In order to make interviews more beneficial and convincing, many investigators develop new techniques in interviewing witnesses and victims (Eck, 1983). Aside from the above tools in criminal investigation, the investigators also use the law of arrest, search and seizure. The criminal procedure law provides the investigator the legal processes involved in a democratic society.
The criminal investigator that mastered the criminal law and procedure with the use of evidences eventually makes the investigation flows smoothly. Related Studies in Criminal Investigation Effectiveness In the study conducted by the RAND Corporation in 1975, the conventional approaches and procedures used by the police investigators do not significantly affect number of solved cases. The study also concluded that the elimination of some investigative procedures will not affect the effectiveness of criminal investigation. They suggested that the elimination of some investigative processes be transformed to more productive ones.
Lastly, the study also found that the increase in criminal apprehension rate are to be produced by improved citizens cooperation with the police and by improve patrol services provided rather that making improvements in some investigative processes. Another study conducted by John Eck in 1983 about robbery and burglary in three jurisdictions provided a different conclusion compare to RAND study. He concluded that the preliminary and follow-up investigations are complimentary with each other-that the elimination of one will affect the effectiveness of the criminal investigation.
Compare to what RAND did in the study; Eck examined the total process of investigation which he believed determines how various techniques provided an effective solution. Breakthroughs in Today’s Criminal Investigation Aside from physical evidences, fingerprinting, DNA analysis, and psychological profiling, today’s tools use in various criminal investigations go beyond imagination. Through the improvement of technology, many advanced procedures, methods and equipment are available in many investigation rooms and offices.
A good example is the lie detector test wherein a witness, suspect or victim is examined through series of questions while sitting on a lie detector equipment chair. The results of the lie detector is determine through the sheet analyze by an expert of lie detection. Recent technology also provides the creation of a forensic tool called Forensic Audio Laboratory. This equipment provides criminal investigators of noise reduction analysis that will automatically clarify audio recordings that are evident in some criminal investigations. Reference A Review of the Criminal Investigation Process Study. (February 21, 2008).
Associated Content. Retrieved April 20, 2009, from http://www. associatedcontent. com/article/604711/review_of_the_criminal_investigation_pg2. html Eck, John E. (1983). Solving Crimes: The Investigation of Burglary and Robbery. PERF Greenwood, P. and Petersilia, J. (1975). The Criminal Investigation Process. RAND Research Division Solomon, John (2007-11-18). FBI’s Forensic Test Full of Holes. The Washington Post. Retrieved April 21, 2009, from http://www. washingtonpost. com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/11/17/AR2007111701681. html Tappen, Paul (1972). Science Against Crime. New York, Doubleday p. 10-15