criminal investigation | Definition

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

A criminal investigation is a process of collecting and analyzing evidence to identify and apprehend the perpetrator(s) of a crime.

A criminal investigation is a fundamental process in the field of law enforcement that involves the collection of evidence, identification of suspects, and determination of what led to the commission of a crime. It is a multifaceted and complex process that requires the use of a variety of techniques and resources to gather and analyze evidence, interview witnesses, and build a solid case against the offender.

The purpose of criminal investigation is to identify and apprehend the perpetrator(s) of a crime and ultimately bring them to justice. The criminal investigation process begins when a crime is reported to law enforcement, and it may involve a wide range of activities, such as interviewing witnesses, collecting physical evidence, and analyzing data from various sources.

The first step in the criminal investigation process is to secure the crime scene. This is critical to prevent the contamination or destruction of evidence that may be present at the scene. Law enforcement officers must take steps to secure the area, limit access to it, and ensure that evidence is not tampered with or removed.

Once the crime scene is secured, investigators must collect and preserve any evidence that may be relevant to the case. This may include physical evidence such as DNA, fingerprints, and fibers, as well as digital evidence such as surveillance footage, phone records, and social media activity.

The next step in the criminal investigation process is to identify and interview witnesses. Witnesses may have valuable information that can help investigators to understand what happened and who was involved in the crime. Witness statements may also help investigators to develop leads and identify suspects.

In addition to interviewing witnesses, investigators may also use forensic techniques to analyze physical evidence collected from the crime scene. Forensic analysis may include DNA testing, fingerprint analysis, ballistics testing, and other methods to identify or link the suspect(s) to the crime.

The investigation process may also involve the use of undercover operations or surveillance to gather additional evidence or intelligence about the suspect(s) and their activities. Law enforcement may also work with other agencies or departments to obtain information about the suspect(s), such as employment records, financial information, and social media profiles.

Throughout the criminal investigation process, investigators must be diligent in following proper protocols and procedures to ensure that the evidence collected is admissible in court. They must also work within the constraints of the law to respect the rights of all parties involved, including the suspects, witnesses, and victims.

In some cases, criminal investigations may require the use of specialized units or resources, such as a SWAT team, K-9 unit, or bomb squad. These resources may be necessary to ensure the safety of law enforcement officers and the public, as well as to apprehend suspects who are considered armed and dangerous.

Learn More

On This Site

[ Glossary ]

Last Modified: 07/19/2021

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.