Criminal justices students are engaged in studying how to investigate crimes by reconstructing the scene of crime and gathering all possible evidence at the scene of crime and also recording verbal statements from suspects and witnesses. They also work closely with forensic science specialists who are involved in investigating the collected evidence for fingerprints, and DNA patterns among other important analysis that can help in linking the suspect to the crime or the crime scene. Reconstruction of crime scene refers to the process of eliminating and determining the actions and events which took place at the crime scene via analysis of pattern of the crime scene, the position and location of the physical evidence, and the forensic or laboratory assessment of the physical evidence. Reconstruction of crime scene also entails systematic study of logical theory formulation and related information (Chisum & Turvey, 2011). This paper investigates between criminal justice/forensic science and crime scene reconstruction and analysis of physical evidence.
Effective criminal justice personnel should be able to study a crime scene and reconstruct it to come up with theory of what could have transpired in the crime scene. This always acts at the first step to the case investigation. Crime reconstruction needs the aptitude to put a puzzle together using unknown dimensions pieces with no guiding picture. Reconstruction of crime is the observational outcome of an action or act, which assist in the hypothesis of the results cause (Chisum & Turvey, 2011). Crime reconstruction can be done using scientific method. This is a method that is founded on the principles of hypothesis and experimental test to determine if the hypothesis explains the cause of the event. The definition of possible hypothesis depends mostly on individual experience, or creativity in crime solving. Thus one can test as many hypotheses as possible until a viable explanation of the event is acquired. To settle for any hypothesis, the criminal justice specialist must be able to provide supporting data, which in this case is the collected physical evidence. Only the theory that accounts for all collected physical evidences can be used as the true representation of what transpired during the crime (Fisher &Fisher, 2012).
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To be able to do this, the criminal justice investigating personnel must be a keen observer, be logical and critical thinker, must understand science, and be able to recognize evidence. Logic, critical thinking and clues are normally used by criminal justices investigator in crime reconstruction process. Normally, it is considerably hard to acquire all the needed information to fully reconstruct the crime by scene analysis. However, the scene should clearly tell what happens even with lost details of the sequence of events. The analysis requires both deductive and inductive logic in the crime analysis testing all formulated hypothesis, where most viable are kept for further analysis after more information on the crime is obtained, while the impossible are eliminated (Chisum&Turvey, 2011).
Collection and analysis of physical evidence play a great role in promoting accurate crime reconstruction. Basically, the crime scene is secured immediately after the arrival of the right personnel including criminal justice and forensic science officers. Pictures of the crime scene are taken from different views that include the aerial view and on the ground. Sketches of the crime scene are also developed. The crime scene identification is mostly directed by physical evidence that may include breakage of the doors, scattered things, blood stains, dead body, clothes with blood stain, and murder weapon among other things, based on the specification of the crime. The data gathering should consider all aspects that can results to reconstruction of crime which include physical evidence condition, impressions and patterns, victim’s condition, position of the evidence based on the visible reference feature, and any other small detail that can explain the situation (Kumar & Goyal, 2017). A search should be conducted around then crime scene to determine if anything else could be find such as any lost item from the offender during the struggle with the victim or when running away, any item that can assist in identifying the victim, or any other physical thing that can aid in giving more clues.
Physical evidence according to Chisum andTurvey(2011) is simply one puzzle piece when investigators are attempting to solve a case. In some forms of crimes for instance sexual assault and homicide, physical evidence might be the most vital aspect in proving the connection between the victim and the suspect. Physical evidence might also be significant in proving that the same suspect is connected to series of crimes. Some of the physical evidence likely to be found in the crime scene include drugs, semen, blood, saliva, fiber, fingerprints, glass, hair, organs, explosives paint, petroleum products, powder residue, minerals, soil, tool marks, vehicle parts, and plastic bags among others. One way to identifying all possible physical evidence is by being careful and searching keenly to anything unnatural in the crime scene, this include trails, broken pieces of trees, disturbed shrubs and the likes (Jblearing, n.d.). Criminal justice personnel should know that physical evidence found at the crime scene can be utilized to determine some of the events that happened during, immediately after, or before the crime. The evidence might be able to assist investigators to establish the order in which the incidences took place. The crime scene assessment is followed by physical evidence gathering and analysis. Analysis of collected physical evidence plays a great role in solving the puzzle. With this information, the investigator can conduct deductive and inductive reasoning, pattern, statistics, and probability analysis to evaluate the data offered by the physical evidence. More information from the eyewitness, photographs, sketches and reports writing can also help in reconstructing the crime (Jblearing, n.d.).
According to Fisher andFisher (2012), physical evidence recognition is an important step in the crime reconstruction. If possible physical evidence is not identified, properly collected, tested and preserved, the evidence forensic value might be reduced greatly or lost forever. Distortion of physical evidence may also result to punishing innocent people while the criminal remain free and boost about their success. Thus, it is important for criminal justice and forensic science personnel to the required integrity and knowledge be able to collect, preserve and analyze the available evidence effectively. This includes identifying and recording transient evidence which is temporal evidence that can be easily lost or changes (Parmar, 2015). To ensure efficiency such kind of evidence which can include some physical and biological phenomenon such as drying blood, color, and temperature, recorded as soon as it is noticed. The investigator should also notice conditional evidence and record it to ensure that it is not lost since it is also temporal. This can include smoke, lighting, TV settings, position of the window, victim’s condition or condition of the victim’s body, or specific position or location of certain evidence in the room or crime scene. This kind of evidence speaks a lot about how the crime took place and if lost, it may become hard to reconstruct the crime. Pattern evidence should also be documented immediately. This can include depositions or fractures, imprints, striations or indentations. Some of possible patterns in the crime scene include blood stain of spatter pattern, article or clothing pattern, glass fracture, position of the furniture among others. This evidence can also be lost and hence need to be documented immediately (Fisher& Fisher, 2012).
Investigator should also consider transfer or trace evidence which is normally created by physical contact between objects, persons, or objects and persons. This evidence includes chemicals, blood, drugs, fingerprint, soil, hair, body fluid, and fiber. This kind of evidence normally requires forensic assessment and it can be used to link the victim to the offender or the crime to the offender. Another form of evidence is medical evidence which consist of injuries of witness, suspect, and victim, the injury degree and type, the wound condition and location, the size and number of the wounds, and individual medical history. Associative evidence refers to particular items positioned at a crime scene, which might be utilized as evidence to relate a suspect or victim with a specific scene. This evidence can be used to link the suspect to the victim. Some of these evidences include vehicle of the suspect, victim’s properties in possession with the suspect or suspect’s property left at the crime scene. Electronic evidence can also be found which include audio recording, video from mobile devices or from surveillance camera among other thing. According to Lee and Pagliaro (2013), any qualified criminal justice officer should be able to classify these forms of evidence and be able to prioritize on the most volatile evidence in the crime scene. These evidences can be easily gathered by taking photographs which preserves the appearance of the crime scene for future reference especially during analysis. However, a more effective investigation should use photographs, sketches and crime scene notes to ensure all details have been grasped and preserved for future analysis. Different types of evidence are anticipated to lead the investigation team to the suspect after understanding what transpired. The criminal justice officer should thus be able to integrate all the available evidence to bring out the events that took place to the crime and get bases to determine the involved suspects using this information (Parmar, 2015). Being systematic in gathering the evidence based on their level of volatility is the key secrete to acknowledging of all available evidence and preserving it to nub the suspects and to reinforce the case during trial.
It is important to note that each crime is unique even when committed by the same person. Each crime thus has its own features that may guide in the investigation process. However, an intelligent criminal justice officer can easily relate similar features of different crime to relate crimes done by a network of criminals. Nevertheless, one should not come with set mind on what to expect in a crime scene. The scene should work as the guide to crime reconstruction, after which, the investigator can conclude whether the crime was committed by a serial criminal, a master criminal or a novice. The scene should also give clue on where to start questioning investigation. In most cases, the questioning starts with the victim if alive or the family of the victim if dead and after the victim identification. High level of creativity, critical thinking and logical deduction is needed to be able to reconstruct the crime. Complete scene reconstruction is a major step in solving the crime misery (Fisher& Fisher, 2012).
Criminal investigation which includes analysis of the crime scene, identification of physical evidence, and reconstruction of the crime scene has for long been based on a systematic approach that employ scientific methods of investigation. This kind of investigation has been proved to be effective since it is the main referred method of crime investigation. However, it is important to note that the success of any criminal investigation resulting to crime scene reconstruction is highly determined by the level of knowledge, creativity and intelligence of the investigator and also on the investigator’s ability to use logic and critical thinking to solve problems. This implies that, even without changing the techniques, a qualified specialist can easily define workable theories to explain the crime and manage to nub the criminal and ensure their prosecution. One of the best technique that an intelligent criminal investigator should use include identifying and recording evidence on a priority basis by focusing first on the most volatile evidence to the least volatile. Another technique is working as a team. Normally,acrime scene can contains a number of volatile evidences that can be hard to be noted by a single person. Thus, working as a team to ensure each one record any seen volatile evidence immediately after arriving and the scene and also in volatile evidence can be quite fruitful. Collaborating even with forensic scientists in collecting and preserving samples and in making analysis is quite important since their findings play a major role in making the first leads to crime scene reconstruction. Thorough search of the crime scene surrounding after recoding everything visible can also play a great role in identifying some of the most important evidence to link the suspect to the crime. Thus, a criminal justice student can enhance the crime scene reconstruction and physical evidence analysis by employing intelligent procedure, and advance knowledge on what to prioritize over the other in evidence collection.