Abstract Crime scenes present many possibilities and evidence that may aid investigators in the apprehension and possibly conviction of a known or unknown offender. While this evidence are present at a scene of a crime, it requires specialized training on the part of law enforcement officials to effectively, efficiently and accurately, collect, record and preserve these evidence. Chain of command is especially vital at each stage of the evidence collection, as evidence can easily be lost and even tampered with.
Sex crimes are especially sensitive, as trained professionals have to exercise empathy to what or who may be perceived as the main evidence; the victim. The victim may hold the key to a lot of information that will help investigators capture the perpetrator. Keyword: sex crimes, crime scene, evidence, collection, touch DNA The Importance of Evidence Collection in Sexually Related Crimes An investigation into any crime, takes place on the presumption that a crime has occurred. It is during the investigation that the actual determination of whether a crime did indeed occur is arrived at.
Once it has been determined that an actual crime has occurred, then the investigation continues. The investigation of different crimes may take on a different approach, but the ultimate goal for every crime is to apprehend and prevent future crimes. The same can be said of sex crimes. Sex crimes include more than Just rape. While investigating sexual assault crimes involve the careful approach of the first responder, other parties involved with the investigation of a sex crime, must have specialized training to handle crimes of this nature.
Rape is one facet of a sexual assault, and while the act itself is usually an unwanted one on the part of the victim, it does not make less the other sexual assaults that can be imposed on an individual. Sex crime by definition is a crime involving sexual assault, or one that is sexually motivated. In order for sex to be considered a crime, the offender must knowingly cause the other person to engage in an unwanted sex act. It involves acts such as rape, prostitution, child pornography, sexual intercourse with a minor, and forcibly sodomy’s, sex crime also covers incest.
Sex crimes are often times sensitive in nature at the onset of being called to the Evidence Collection in Sex Related Crimes By phenomenally offender are both present, however in some instances, this may not be the case. One of the most important evidence that can be collected at the scene of the crime is the statement or testimony of the victim themselves. The Victim One of the main sources of evidence of a sex crime is the victim. Once the crime has been reported, a first offender is dispatched to the scene of the crime.
First offenders are usually not trained in the interviewing techniques of sex crime victims, and must exercise tact and precision when talking to the victim of a sex crime. While iris responders may not be trained in the art of interviewing sex crime victims, they still have direct contact with them at the scene of the crime, and must be able to exercise empathy to the victim. Specialized law enforcement officers, trained in the area of interviewing victims of sex crimes are typically the ones to get into an in- depth interview with a victim.
It is important for them to know and understand the different sexual offenses and the typology of the sexual offender. For this purpose, many officials who are trained in sex crime investigations are trained in areas such sexual assault laws, offender motivation, victim responses, interviewing techniques, investigative strategies, and evidence recognition and collection, and interrogation techniques, (“Marshall University’ n. D). The first responder will gather as much information from the victim with a careful approach. He or she will first protect the crime scene to thwart any evidence being loss or destroyed.
If the offender is present and probable cause exist, then an arrest should be made, if not the area needs to be canvassed for any witnesses that may have seen or heard anything related to the offense. First responders must advise a victim as empathetically as possible, to try not to shower. Most victims of a sexual assault, may become traumatized and feel that the only way to feel better or forget what they Just went through, is by taking a shower. A victim must should not be made to feel that he or she wanted it, or consented to it, or worst case scenario feel responsible for the act, (“Marshall University’ n. D).
However, according to Garcia and Henderson (2010), the Violence Against Women Legislation, passed in 2005, requires states to perform certain unction’s if and when the investigating of a sex crime has occurred. The legislation holds that states must provide medical forensic examination of victims of sexual assaults, without the victims themselves having any face to face contact with law officials, and to prevent them from incurring any out of pocket money for the process of the collection of this evidence. One of the main goals of the WOMAN is to prevent the victims from having to go through an ordeal that may have possibly traumatized them.
These victims can have the evidence collected at a hospital, but not have their Ames listed on that evidence. Instead the victims are given a coded number which is used to identify them in the event that they chose to report the crime at a later date. “Generally speaking, no direct connection is made between the victim and law enforcement officials unless the victim is willing to request their involvement”, (Garcia repository for the state and is stored until the victim files a report with law enforcement, who retrieves and processes the medical evidence.
The Investigation and Evidence Collection While the VIVA 2005 makes it possible for evidence to be collected under its anonymous process of reporting of sexual assaults, there are still other contemporary methods of collecting evidence that is still being employed and utilized in the investigation of a sexual assault case. The collection of evidence at a sexual assault crime scene must be left to an evidence collector or technician. He or she is also trained in the area of evidence collection at a crime scene and knows the different types of evidence that can be collected, and where to look specifically for different evidence types.
The victim more than likely will be taken to a hospital for medical are and also evidence collection. Medical professionals will oversee the evidence collection such as semen and blood samples. While at the hospital, a pre-examination of the victim is conducted, this includes the collecting of data. This data holds all the relevant information that would be needed to investigate the crime. It would include the date and time of the incident, a possibly description of the offender (if victim was able to see the offender or even know the offender).
This can be especially relevant in child sexual assault cases, as the offender may be a family member or friend or even a neighbor. Sensitive approach to questioning a child or any other victim of sexually related assault, must be exercised, as this may potentially cause the person to shut down and not want to corporate with law officials. In cases like this law officials must never make a victim of a sex crime feel as though they wanted the act and that they should have said no.
Forensic Evidence Collection and Examination A forensic examination of the victim is usually conducted with the main goal and purpose being to document “evidence of a possible crime as well as determine and tend to possible physical injuries resulting from that crime”, (Eons, Contract and Beer, 1986). During the forensic examination, the examiner will collect a medical history of the victim so as to get a basic idea of the victim’s health issues, if any, prior to the assault and any other existing conditions before the assault.
The examiner will then proceed to collecting evidence from the head and hair of the victim to search for semen discharge or any other foreign matter that may point them in the direction of identifying who the perpetrator might be. The examination will then proceed, according to Eons et al (1986), to the “oral and peripheral” areas of the victim’s body. Any other evidence, such as the examination of the female genitalia and the rectum, is carefully examined, and a detail description of the process and findings are noted.
Other sexual assault crimes, including child sexual abuse, may include the collection of fingerprints, semen (if penetration was done without a condom); used condom, blood, body fluids, and other types of trace evidence (Federal Bureau of Investigation, n. D). In general, the forensic medical examination will cover the victim’s detailed deiced history to include the collection of data of the victim’s previous medical conditions. After this, there is a head to toe detailed examination and the assessment of the victim’s body.
This examination will also include an internal examination of the victim. During this process, the collection of blood, urine, hair and conditions found and to possibly set up the victim to any form of counseling and resources that are available to them. How is Evidence Collected? Collecting a rape kit from a victim of a sexual assault is especially vital for the expressed purpose of apprehending the offender and to also find the necessary espouses to medical conditions that may be found out as a direct result of the assault.
The victim should be informed that consensual sex partners, at the time of the crime, may be required to provide a DNA sample so as to eliminate the person as the offender. This type of testing is necessary so that to exclude the consensual sex partner as possibly being the offender. The victim’s body is searched for bruises or any identifying marks that my aid investigators. If any bruises or marks are found, they are then photographed for evidence and to be included as a part of a rape kit Eons et al 1986).
In order to collect evidence from the female vagina, a swab is inserted (if feasible to do so) into the female vagina and left in for approximately one minute so as to allow for saturation of the swab. The material from the swab is then tested for staining and spermatozoa. Other swabbing is conducted to test for acid levels ad for any bacteria. After all the necessary and available evidence have been collected, they are transferred to the forensic examination kit.
This kit will hold the DNA and other forensic evidence such as sheets that may have been collected from he scene, swabs, hair samples, and in some cases, the blood collecting devices that were used on the victim. Another important item that may be included in the examination kit is the chain of evidence document. This document will show who handled what evidence or performed what examination and also, to whom this evidence was given. Touch DNA Evidence in Sex Crimes Touch DNA is one method used by investigators and forensic examiners in sex crimes, to collect evidence from victims or from a crime scene.
It is also used in various crimes and at various crime scenes. Touch DNA allows for evidence to be elected from areas or surfaces, which would not typically be dusted for fingerprint. While DNA evidence is extremely vital in evidence collection, it is important to note that in some places, Touch DNA is more feasible to be applied. In cases involving a sexual assault such as rape, Touch DNA can prove to be especially important in collecting evidence from the victim, from areas that investigators or forensic examiners may not be able to access via any other method.
Touch DNA like other DNA forensic evidence, allows investigators to search a database of collected and stored DNA evidence to match the current evidence against and also to store in systems like COD’S; if a sample does not already exists. Touch DNA may offer investigators vital information. Touch DNA evidence collection is particularly done in areas where the swabbing or cutting of possible evidence may be found. For instance, the swabbing of inside a sex crime victim’s vagina, or the cutting of an area of a shirt to test for evidence, may be conducted using the Touch DNA method.
The Impact that Evidence Has on Prosecuting Offenders Forensic evidence, in our courtrooms today, has been the basis under which many invocations have been attained, and even provided grounds for the exoneration of crime can be a witness against the offender that attacked him or her, it is also depended upon by tries of the fact, the testimonies of other expert witnesses. Forensic science evidence in our courtrooms, when explained correctly, may potentially lead to the conviction of a known offender.
Despite much scrutiny into its viability and reliability, it has nevertheless proven to be a relied upon evidence in our courts. Sex crime evidence collection, is no different from other criminally relied on forensic evidence. It involves the carefully approach of those who are directly and indirectly involved in its collection and its preservation. In addition to that, with the expectations that the courts have set with regards to the Daubers hearings, even more restrictions to what can be admitted into court, is applied.
Evidence collected from a sex crime victim or place, is Just as important as any forensic evidence collected for a murder or any other serious crime. Chain of command is also important, as evidence contamination can occur at any point during the collection and preservation of such evidence. Judges and Jurors need to understand and be shown the importance of forensic evidence in our criminal Justice system. Shelton (2010) explained that DNA evidence is very durable and can be extracted from the smallest of remains many years after a crime.
Equally significant is its “polymorphism,” meaning that, depending on the method used for its extraction, it is unique among humans and can identify the donor of the specimen with overwhelming accuracy. Shelton also stressed the importance of DNA evidence in today’s court room citing that DNA testing can be extremely precise and can often monastery that only one person in billions could have been the source of the specimen evidence.