Understanding the steps of a police investigation

Understanding the steps of a police investigation

| Jul 29, 2020 | Criminal Law |

If someone is facing criminal charges in Maryland, he or she should learn how police will investigate the charge. The State Attorney’s Office as well as the state troopers or local law enforcement investigate criminal occurrences. 

Knowing the stages of a police investigation will help someone recognize an active criminal investigation and give him or her insight on how interrogations, witness interviews, and evidence gathering work. 

Crime scene investigation

After the dispatchers receive a call reporting a crime, police officers arrive at the scene. At the crime scene, the police will begin to collect evidence to potentially support a criminal sentence. 

Law enforcement employs certain site investigation methods such as taking measurements, taking pictures, collecting objects connected to the crime, taking forensic evidence or making other general observations. Police will then interview all potential witnesses still at the scene. 

Before the police are able to search any private property, they must either have probable cause or otherwise obtain a warrant. 

Police observations

As part of the investigation, police take note of any important details. A key component of any investigation is a thorough sweeping of the crime scene for any blood stains, weapons, clothing, ambient weather and more details that give light to the crime. 

Witness interviews 

Witnesses of the crimes are typically interviewed separately so that the police can gather each individual’s own story of the events. Witnesses are people who have personal knowledge of the crime which means that they used one of their five senses to experience something at the crime scene first hand. 

The authorities are looking to figure out what happened, who the responsible party is and note other facts of the case. The interviewer records the witness statements for future legal use. 

Evidence collection

Collection of physical and forensic evidence also happens at the crime scene. The chain of custody for evidence begins with the officer who collected the item and then moves on to the next person. At each step, the evidence is properly documented so an unbroken chain is traced from collection all the way to a criminal trial.