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Criminal Investigation

The process of discovering, collecting, preparing, identifying, and presenting evidence to determine what happened and who is responsible.


Goals of a Criminal Investigation

Determine whether a crime has been committed,
Identify the person through information and evidence, Arrest suspect, Recover stolen property, Present best case to prosecutor.


Functions of the Investigator

Emergency assistance, Secure the scene; photograph, videotape, and sketch; takes notes and write report; search for, obtain, and process physical evidence; obtain information from witnesses and suspects; identify suspects; conduct raids, surveillance, stakeouts, and undercover assignments; testify in court.


The preliminary Investigation

Question victims, witnesses, suspects; conducts a neighborhood canvass; measure,videotape, photograph, sketch scene; search for evidence; identify, collect, process, package evidence; record observations and statements in notes


3 ways to identify suspects

show-up, photo line-up, physical line-up



bring the suspect back to the scene; as soon as possible but within 2 hours the officer should bring suspect back to the scene of the crime and the suspect should be shown to the victim out of the police car when safely possible


Physical line-up

8-12 people must have similar physical attributes; within 2" of actual height - 20 lbs of weight
Suspect has the right to an attorney decided in U.S. v. Ash


Photo line-up

up to 6 people - must have similar physical attributes; within 2" of actual height - 20 lbs of weight; all should have glasses, be Hispanic, facial hair or no facial hair.


Informant past proven reliable

the information from the informant has been corroborated and has led to arrest; the more arrests the more stock a judge will put in the information



when the person no longer feels free to leave



asking questions to obtain information - a reasonable person would feel free to leave.


Questioning juveniles

parental permission is needed - preferably present during questioning


Avenues of information

1) reports, records, and databases, including those found on the internet 2) people who are not suspects in a crime but know something about the crime or those involved; 3) suspects in the crime


Information sources

internet, neighbors, mailboxes, or landlords, garbage cans left by road


types of searches

a search warrant, consent is given, an officer stops a suspicious person and believes the person may be armed, search incident to a lawful arrest, an emergency exists.



an officer is allowed to pat down a suspicious person for the officer's safety


Search incident to arrest

an officer is allowed to search a suspect after a lawful arrest to check for weapons, evidence of a crime, and/or contraband


Search Warrant

warrants are issued by judges or magistrates, must have an abundance of probable cause - very specific details as to the place(s) and item(s) to be searched or seized


Search with consent

someone gives consent for an officer to search their personal property - written consent is preferred, consent can be revoked at any time during the search.officer is not allowed to search a locked container.


emergency search

if an emergency exists then the officer can search the general area to ensure safety concerns


day-time search warrant

officer has 10 days to execute warrant, between the hours of 0600-2200, early morning is the safest time to execute a warrant


night-time search warrant

3 days to execute warrant between 2200- 0600, very difficult to obtain because there is more invasion of privacy