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
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:
Quantico, VA 22135