Forensic Evidence And Criminal Investigation

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Every criminal investigation starts off the same way: A crime was committed, someone informs the police, law enforcement shows up, secures the crime scene and they start the investigation. There are steps taken in every investigation. Police interview witnesses, check surveillance, interrogate suspects; however, one of the most important steps is the collection and analysis of evidence. According to the Encyclopedia of Criminology (2014), forensic evidence refers to the verbal statements and physical items presented to a neutral fact-finder in the court of law that assist him or her in rendering a verdict (Vandenberg, 2014). In simple terms, it is anything offered to a court to demonstrate if the suspect on trial is guilt or innocent.…show more content…
The third stage is retrieval, which is the information that the witness recalls in his or her statements. Any problems at any of these stages can have implications for the validity of the eyewitness testimony (Vandenberg, 2014).
Scholars have revealed that wrongful convictions are more often based on inaccurate eyewitness identifications that on other types of evidence (Vandenberg, 2014). Researchers also estimated that between 50% and 90% of wrongfully convicted individuals who were later exonerated by DNA evidence were initially found guilty and sentenced on the basis of eyewitness testimony (Vandenberg, 2014). If eyewitness testimony can be unreliable, why then keep using it for convictions? Steps can be taken to increase the accuracy of eyewitness recollections. For example, there is a guide called Eyewitness Evidence that was developed by psychology researchers, law enforcement personnel, prosecutors, and defense attorneys. The guide lays out standardized protocols for retrieving eyewitness accounts (Vandenberg, 2014). These guidelines help ensure the investigator that the testimony they obtain will be as accurate and as reliable as possible (Vandenberg, 2014).
Physical evidence refers to any material that is obtained from tangible objects such as fingerprints, clothing, hairs, fibers, documents, and food items (Vandenberg, 2014). It is only used in about 20% of all criminal cases (Vandenberg, 2014). The most known physical evidence is DNA. DNA has become
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