Module 2. Evidence-law

Questions: What is physical evidence?

Provide at least three examples in your answer. Physical evidence is anything that can establish a crime has happened and anything that links the crime and the criminal. Three examples include weapons, fibers, and hair. Describe three ways that a crime scene can be recorded. What is a benefit of each? A crime scene can be recorded in several ways including photography, drawings, and notes.

Photography can help the investigator capture the image of a crime scene before it is altered in any way, showing the exact position of objects and events as they initially appeared. Drawings show the location of evidence and can contain accurate distances between certain objects. Finished drawings are drawn to scale to show the layout of the crime scene with exact dimensions. Notes contain detailed information about certain objects or people at the crime scene. They are beneficial as they can be used help investigators refresh their memory during a trial.

What is a chain of custody? Why is it important? A chain of custody is a list of all persons who had possession of the evidence during the crime investigation. A chain of custody is important because it shows who has had access to the evidence and indicates that it has been in the possession of law enforcement individuals from the time that it is found until the time that it is potentially used in a trial. What three types of photographs are taken at crime scenes? Describe each type?

The three types of photographs taken at a crime scene include overview photographs, intermediate photographs, and close up photographs. Overview photographs show the crime scene in wide angles to show any entries and exits to the crime scene. Intermediate photographs are closer to the evidence and they help to show the evidence in relation to other objects in the room. Close up photographs tend to focus on an injury, a weapon, or a specific piece of evidence and they are taken to help record specific details that may not be picked up by photographs taken farther away.

Why is it important to record the crime scene? The recording of a crime scene helps to create a chain of custody showing what is present at the scene and its location, as well as the overall condition of the scene. An actual crime scene is usually only available for a short period of time. Therefore, having records of a crime scene allows investigators to look back over the evidence as it appeared at the scene. Critical Thinking Questions Why is it important to secure the crime scene? What do you think would be the most difficult part of doing this?

It is important to secure the crime scene to ensure that none of the evidence gets moved, contaminated, or rendered useless in any way. The most difficult part of doing this would be shielding the evidence/crime scene from the public and reporters. What type of recording do you think would be the most useful to crime investigators? Why?

Photographs are probably the most useful to crime investigators out of all other types of recording simply because they are able to see the exact layout of the crime scene without actually being there. Photographs show how objects in a crime scene are laid out in relation to one another before they are moved or contaminated in any way. What do you think would be the best method of submitting evidence to a crime lab? Why? The best method of submitting evidence to a crime lab would be through personal delivery.

Shipments through mail may be lost or misplaced, causing a contamination of the evidence and rendering it useless. The safe transportation of the evidence to a crime lab can only be assured through personal delivery. What type of evidence do you think would be most difficult to collect? Why? The type of evidence that would be most difficult to collect would be trace evidence such as fibers, hair, or specs of dirt. Special vacuums and other specialized tools such as tweezers are needed to carry out the collection of trace evidence. Trace evidence is often small and hard to find/collect.

What does the Fourth Amendment protect against? Do you agree with these restrictions on collecting evidence? Why or why not? The Fourth Amendment protects individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures. The law states that in order for a search to happen, a search warrant must be obtained from a neutral judge. Although it may be easier to collect evidence without having to go through the process of collecting a warrant, I agree with the Fourth Amendment because it allows law enforcement to collect evidence while still respecting the privacy of others.