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Sketching Crime Scenes. FBI Academy. Quantico, VA.

Abstract: This article explains the procedures for sketching scene diagrams. The courts define a diagram as "an illustrative outline of a tract of land, or something else capable of linear projection, which is not necessarily intended to be perfectly correct and accurate." The courts accept diagrams as estimates, regardless of who produces them. They are intended to help the witness communicate his testimony to the jury. The diagram is not admissible alone as evidence. It must be verified during a witness's testimony.

Sketches are intended to record the locations and relationships of evidence found at a crime scene. They also serve to refresh an investigator's memory. In court, sketches and diagrams are used to clarify testimony and help the jury understand the crime scene. When sketching a crime scene, investigators should remember that a sketch is intended to supplement a photograph. A sketch can eliminate unnecessary details of a photograph and present a clear picture of what a witness wants to relay to a jury. A sketch can also provide a more accurate description of the distance between objects and their exact positions.

The article provides instructions on what to include in a sketch and how to draw the three main types of sketches. All measurements and details should be recorded at the scene and immediately entered on the rough sketch.

For more information, contact:
FBI Academy
Quantico, VA 22135

 
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