Saturday, February 17, 2018
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Chain of Evidence

The chain of evidence starts at the hospital rape examination or at the crime scene, whichever is reported first.  The victim may go directly to the hospital instead of calling police.  That is fine.  The hospital will contact the police.  While the rape exam is taking place a technician may be dispatched to the crime scene to take pictures before anyone collects evidence. Afterwards the investigators are allowed to gather physical evidence.

So starts the critical process of protecting the chain of evidence at both the hospital during the exam and the rape location. (Scene of the crime)

Crime Scene Investigation

A technician trained in evidence gathering will arrive and look over the area.  Their trained eyes take in the whole scene before they take pictures of the crime scene before anyone is allowed to remove evidence.  A diagram will be made of the scene too.

Each piece of evidence collected from where the crime took place must be separately stored in its own envelop.  The person placing the article in the envelope must sign the documentation.  In all criminal cases, evidence must be accounted for every second of every day.  Any mishandling will cast doubt and the whole case may be thrown out.

After the rape evidence is gathered it is taken to a crime lab. Every person who moves the rape kit from place to place or who accepts the evidence for examination must document when they received it, date and time and when the evidence left their possession.  Every place the evidence changes hands is documented; when it left the building, how long it was gone, who handled it, who returned it and who put it back in the vault.

The Property Officer to the Forensic Scientist, is considered in the chain of custody and is normally subpoenaed to court to testify to every step that piece of evidence has been through.

If the chain of evidence is established beyond a reasonable doubt, it will be admitted in court.  And that's where the chain ends.

Part of this outline came from http://www.wandtv.com/

A side note:

Many women and girls report they tuned out the actual rape and concentrated on what the rapist was wearing, the details of a hair cut, scar, what they could see or hear, a speech impediment or accent.  They stayed aware of their surroundings, and were able to describe in great detail where they were, even if they didn't know the address or street.  They picked up clues by listening to the sounds outside, hearing a train or airplanes nearby.  Some casually picked up a cigarette butt on the way out the door to preserve DNA.  You never know what connecting evidence will present it self.

Being informed may assist you or you may assist someone in the future.  Share this knowledge.

Although this was written based on the authors expereince as a rape advocate for women and girls, the process will be the same in evidence collection for men and boys.  They too should not fear the exam.  Reading about the process educates and removes some of the fear of the unknown.  Males need just as much support in the event of a rape as do the females. It will be stressful but necessary in the event they prosecute the perpetrator.

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