crime scene investigation | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Introduction / Policing

Crime scene investigation (CSI) is a component of the overall criminal investigation process wherein evidence is collected, documented, and preserved at the location where a crime took place.

Crime scene investigation (CSI) is an integral part of the criminal investigation process that involves the collection, documentation, and preservation of evidence at the location where a crime was committed. This crucial step in the criminal justice system helps investigators to piece together what happened, how it happened, and who may have been involved in the crime.

The goal of crime scene investigation is to find physical evidence that can be analyzed and used to identify the perpetrator(s) of the crime. This may include blood, DNA, fingerprints, footprints, hair fibers, and other trace evidence. Crime scene investigators use a variety of tools and techniques to collect and preserve this evidence, including cameras, fingerprinting kits, swabs, and evidence bags.

One of the most important aspects of crime scene investigation is the documentation of the crime scene. Investigators must carefully document every detail of the scene, including the location and position of all evidence, any signs of forced entry or struggle, and any other relevant details. This documentation is critical in building a case against a suspect, as it can provide valuable clues about what happened and who was involved.

In addition to documenting the scene and collecting evidence, crime scene investigators must also ensure that the evidence is properly preserved. This means taking steps to prevent contamination of the evidence, such as wearing gloves and using clean tools. Evidence must also be carefully packaged and labeled to ensure that it can be traced back to the crime scene and properly analyzed in a laboratory.

One of the challenges of crime scene investigation is that evidence can be easily contaminated or destroyed if not handled properly. Investigators must be meticulous in their approach to ensure that evidence is not compromised in any way. This may involve securing the scene, limiting access to the area, and carefully controlling the movement of people and objects in and out of the crime scene.

Another challenge of crime scene investigation is the need to balance the desire for evidence with the rights of suspects and the public. Investigators must work within the constraints of the law to ensure that they are not violating anyone’s rights while also pursuing the evidence that is necessary to solve the crime. This requires a delicate balance and a deep understanding of the law and the rights of all parties involved.

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Last Modified: 05/15/2023

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