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Evidence Types and Investigation Training Program Essay

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Updated: Jun 1st, 2021

Scenario

Crime scene investigative units are the primary response teams to arrive at a crime scene to collect the evidence to be used in identifying the culprit. Experience sharing is an integral part of training such units and preparing them for work in the field. The first step in training is identifying different forms of evidence available and realizing the difference between them in the court’s eyes. The purpose of this proposal is to provide evidence training to recruits.

Different Kinds of Evidence

The court’s primary forms of evidence include direct (also known as a testimonial), material (physical), demonstrational, and circumstantial evidence. This evidence has a different implementation, weight, and purpose when proving or disproving a case in an adversarial system. The primary definitions are as follows (Lanier, 2018):

  • Direct (Testimonial) evidence. This type of evidence is provided by an eyewitness, who had either seen the crime being committed or has information that would otherwise be useful for proving innocence or guilt of the accused.
  • Material evidence. Involves material objects found on the crime scene that could be used as evidence of physical actions that took place. Examples include blood, hair, gunpowder, weapons, semen, and others.
  • Demonstrational evidence. A form of evidence is used to either demonstrate an event or explain the concept. Audio files, video recordings, charts, graphs, and photos are all part of this group.
  • Circumstantial evidence. A large and vaguely determined type of evidence that seems to imply the innocence or guilt of a person or a party rather than directly proving it.

All four types of evidence are to be collected by crime scene investigative units to determine the crime and the culprit to construct a credible case.

Relationships Between Types of Evidence

The difference between physical and testimonial evidence lies in the degree of validity, the potential for interpretation, and degradation processes involved. Objective evidence is considered more valuable and concrete than testimonial evidence due to a lesser potential for misinterpretation (Regensburger, 2019). Testimonial evidence relies on the eyewitness’s perceptions, which could have been affected by many physical and psychological factors, frequently requiring a rigorous cross-examination to determine the truth.

In some cases, physical evidence may require an explanation in the court when the evidence itself does not provide any direct clues to the information it represents. Some of the examples include blood (it must be explained whose blood it is, with blood analysis certificates provided), weapons (additional evidence must be provided to prove these weapons are indeed connected to the case), hair, tire marks, and fingerprints (Regensburger, 2019). At times, a distinction is made between physical and biological evidence.

Physical evidence is significant to the jury, as they are expected to make a verdict only if the proof of guilt is without a shadow of a doubt (Regensburger, 2019). Since physical evidence has fewer options for misinterpretation when compared to testimonial or circumstantial evidence, it usually forms the backbone of the case for the prosecution. Without it, the jury is more likely to declare a person to be not guilty of the crime due to various gaps of knowledge present in the case.

Demonstrative evidence is typically implemented either to provide audio and imagery of the crime being committed or to present a concept or a schematic to the court (Regensburger, 2019). It is typically done in order to help follow a complex line of evidence, helping compartmentalize the issue into different sections. It also provides insights into concepts vaguely known, as the jury is not to be expected to possess relevant knowledge about specific aspects of the case.

The difference between direct and circumstantial evidence lies in the realm of credibility. Direct evidence, though subject to biases, has a way of dissemination, meaning that after a rigorous cross-examination, it could be determined if the witness is absolutely sure of what they have seen or heard (Regensburger, 2019). Circumstantial evidence, however, is called that way because there is no way of converting it into a type of evidence that directly proves the involvement of a particular party. The concept of overwhelming evidence is a type of practice that utilizes circumstantial evidence as a means of determining the innocence of guilt.

It goes in hand with the detailed evidence test, which is applicable in some courts (Regensburger, 2019). However, in the majority of cases, the State refuses to utilize the test, as it would mean a more significant burden of responsibility and uncertainty when compared to the “beyond a shadow of a reasonable doubt” paradigm. Usually, circumstantial evidence alone is not enough for a conviction, as the backbone of any case must be based on direct or material evidence.

Proposed Training Program

The trainees for the crime scene investigative unit will be exposed to the theoretical information presented above, followed by examples of case studies to connect the theory to reality (Cordner, 2016). Practical tasks would involve identifying various types of evidence, determining their eligibility and connection to multiple cases, as well as their potential for court use. The last stage of training would involve the investigator team visiting various scenes of the crime and applying their newfound knowledge and skills to field practice.

References

Cordner, G. W. (2016). Police Administration. New York, NY: Routledge.

Lanier, M. M. (2018). Essential criminology. New York, NY: Routledge.

Regensburger, D. (2019). Criminal evidence: From crime scene to courtroom. New York, NY: Aspen Publishers.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Evidence Types and Investigation Training Program'. 1 June.

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