Connecting the Links: Chain of Custody and Documentation Procedures

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Connecting the Links 1

Connecting the Links:

Chain of Custody and Documentation Procedures

Michael Gill

Florida Metropolitan University

Connecting the Links 2

Abstract
This essay firstly explains what the chain of custody, as it pertains to crime scene investigations, is and why it is important. Secondly, the six procedures for documenting a crime scene will be introduced and explained. These two subjects are an extremely vital sequence in crime scene investigations which cannot be over detailed. Cases have been lost because of errors made while documenting custody changes and crimes scenes.

Connecting the Links 3

Connecting the Links: Chain of Custody and Documentation Procedures
What is the "chain of custody?" The chain of custody is a term, mostly used in a legal form or in reference of a document, which supplies a written reference to the collection, transfer, and testing of any piece of evidence. A chain of custody is referred to as a documented, chronological history of a specimen which, when completed correctly, protects the integrity of that specimen. Paper templates are normally used to document certain required information about the specimen, such as when it was collected, where it was found, the name or initials of the investigator who found it, a brief description of the evidence and each and every agency to which it was transferred, (www.toxlab.co.uk/coc.htm).

Referring to a chain of custody as important is an understatement. Cases are both won and lost due to the custodial changes of evidence. In order to introduce a single specimen as relevant evidence in a trial, one must prove that such piece of evidence is in fact the same item which was confiscated from the place or person in question. This can only be accomplished through testimony and physical proof of a valid chain of custody. It is impossible to prove the validity of questioned evidence if the integrity of the chain is compromised....
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