A crime scene sketch refers to a scale drawing which locates evidence in relation to other factors. It typically complements videos and photographs taken of a scene. It can be argued that with the dynamic technology and increased use of digital cameras in crime scenes, sketches are no longer useful. However, the reality remains that the photos and videos taken are more likely to distort the crime scene dimensions. A crime scene sketch prepared properly is more critical to an accurately documented crime scene. A diagram is more likely to depict the scene as it actually was more than a photograph represents it as it can show details better as well as show the entire crime scene. Photos, an accurate sketch, and notes are used to depict and recreate the scene for investigators who were absent. The sketch usually supplements the photographs by giving precise descriptions of where evidence was situated at the crime scene. A sketch will refresh the mind of the original investigator and will serve as a frame of reference when interrogating witnesses or suspects (Goodall & Hawks, 2011).
The crime scene at hand involves a sexual assault whereby the victim was assaulted at her home. It also involves the victim escaping through her front door when it was raining after which she was recaptured before escaping again this time through the bathroom window to her neighbor’s house. The suspect is finally caught while driving away from the scene. The crime scene, therefore, involves both indoor and outdoor areas (in rainy weather) as well as a vehicle. Documenting this scene might tend to be challenging since the criminal investigator might need to create more than one type of sketch. For the indoor crime scene where the victim was assaulted, the cross-projection method will be used. This will be a top-down view of the crime scene with the room’s walls folded down. However, as a rule, the sketch will not focus on the colors of the walls or type of the floor but will instead concentrate on pertinent issues. The triangulation method will also be a key method to use in preparing a sketch. The scene will be seen from a bird’s eye view showing fixed points like the victim’s house, the area she was caught, her neighbor’s house and the point the suspect’s vehicle was caught. The triangulation method is mostly used to sketch outdoor scenes where specific points of reference cannot be easily identified.
It is critical to note that there are essential items to consider when documenting a crime scene sketch. These elements include:
• The type of crime, time, date and assigned case number
• The complete name and rank of the crime investigator
• The position of a crime scene in a building, address and landmarks
• The full names of other officers who play a role in preparing the sketch
A rough draft or sketch (drawn by officers at a crime scene) is also crucial and is usually kept in the case file in addition to the final or finished sketch (complete and drawn to scale). A well-prepared sketch will support the formal and final report of the investigator.
Goodall, J. & Hawks, C. (2011). Crime Scene Documentation: A Realistic Approach to Investigating Crime Scenes. LawTech Publishing Group.
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