Evidence gathering plays a crucial role in ensuring fair trials. Crime scene evidence provides proof to the jury, thus helping them to deliver a fair ruling. Notably, there are two types of evidence: material and physical (Saferstein, 2013). Material evidence comprises manufactured items such as glass, paint, or fibers. It can be either visible or invisible. Usually, they are examined using a microscope or other specialized equipment that help to detect and extract any valuable information. On the other hand, physical evidence typical entail all the pieces present at the place of a crime. Characteristically, it is the most regularly used type of evidence in forensic investigations since it is also the most common (Saferstein, 2013). A crime scene investigation involves several cautious steps and activities such as identifying the types of evidence, collecting and preserving the proof, and observing all legal issues concerning the scene and the substantiation present.
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Virtually all crime scenes have physical evidence, and it is typically used to identify the suspect or victim. According to Saferstein (2013), physical evidence comprises any proof that is visible, touchable, or smelled present at a crime scene. For instance, the physical evidence recovered from the crime scene included bloody fingerprints, three sets of footprints (one bloody set and two muddy sets) throughout the house, tire tracks by the side entrance, and shell casings. All this evidence will play a critical role in either identifying the suspect or the victim. In this regard, the identification process will entail running a ballistic test on the shell casings, conducting a print-match of both the footprints and fingerprints, performing a DNA test of the blood, and using the tire tracks to identify the vehicle present at the crime scene.
Before submitting firearm evidence to the laboratory, it is essential to observe all necessary precautions to avoid loss of crucial information or accidental weapon discharge during transportation. Therefore, all loaded weapons must be unloaded after making records of the position of the hammer and safety pin (Saferstein, 2013). Additionally, it is critical to record the location of unfired and fired ammunition in the firearm. In case the gun is a revolver, the position of its chamber must be indicated on the cylinder using a scratch mark. Consequently, the cartridge or casings should be marked to match the number of their equivalent chambers and placed in separate envelopes or boxes upon removal.
For automatic firearms, the magazine should be detached and examined for prints, and then the chamber emptied (Saferstein, 2013). In case the gun has blood or any foreign material relating to the investigation, the spot is covered using an uncontaminated piece of paper then taped up to avoid loss of the evidence when shipping. Subsequently, the gun must be labeled with a tag at the trigger guard for identity and documentation purposes. In this regard, the label must include the model of the firearm, make, serial number, and investigators initials. However, guns recovered from underwater do not undergo the same process. On the centrally, they should be transported to the laboratory immediately inside a container with an adequate amount of the water it was submerged.
Several legal issues regarding physical evidence exist since it plays a critical role in the investigation of a crime and implication of the suspects. As such, crime scene investigators have specific laws that guide them on the appropriate methods of conducting an investigation. These laws dictate the handling and submission of evidence in the laboratory for it to be valid. Notably, all procedures undertaken in the process of gathering evidence should conform with the Fourth Amendment, which states, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated…” (Saferstein, 2013, p. 99). For instance, investigators must have a search permit before investigating a scene of crime. The permit contains provisions that dictate the procedure of undertaking the entire investigation process.
Modern-day analysis techniques are susceptible and complicated. When forensic analysts interpret data from comparative analysis, they must clarify the confines of disparity among the material (Saferstein, 2013). Notably, the evidence presented at the courtroom must have followed specific protocol and procedures during collection as stated by the criminal laws or the court during pretrial hearings to incarcerate or exonerate a suspect. As such, the collection and examination of physical evidence found at a scene of crime must be done professionally. Additionally, its transportation to the laboratory for forensic investigation must observe utmost caution. Forensic analysts should then find as many characteristics as possible to link or distance a suspect form a crime (Saferstein, 2013). It is only under these circumstances will the court consider the evidence as valid and use it in rendering a verdict.
Physical evidence is crucial since it links data with events in a manner that is free from bias and human error. This type of proof uncovers all individual characteristics, thus relating the crime scene to a specific person or object. The main goal of physical evidence is drawing a picture of possible events that occurred at the scene, even without witnesses. This aim facilitates the process of solving any given crimes as investigators obtain links that help them in singling out possible suspects thus remain with a small figure. Unlike material evidence, the physical proof has distinguishable characteristics, which can direct an investigator to a single source of origin (Saferstein, 2013). Consequently, the collective presence of evidence can point in a particular direction. In this regard, an individual is more likely to be linked to a crime if there is substantial physical evidence pointing towards their involvement. Therefore, criminal investigators can use physical evidence to pursue their work with high chances of success.
Crime scene evidence forms the basis of the investigative process and the rendering of a verdict. As such, all the physical and trace evidence must be collected, documented, and stored cautiously to ensure a just trial. Subsequently, forensic analysis is an integral part of this process, and investigators should conduct it professionally to guarantee all the results obtained are accurate. Notably, a crime scene has different forms of physical evidence, and each involves a specific handling and processing technique. Any form of mishandling proof can lead to personal injuries or temperament with the investigation process. Additionally, laws exist to oversee the process of investigating crimes. Any attempt to obtain evidence outside the provisions of these laws interferes with the credibility of the entire process. Hence, criminal investigators should ensure conformity with these provisions to make sure the court upholds the type of evidence gathered as valid and used in the process of seeking justice.
Saferstein, R. (2013). Forensic science: From the crime scene to the crime lab. Mt. Laurel, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.