This is an essay on criminal investigation. A criminal investigation is an official physical, financial or scientific effort to uncover information about a crime. The essay will respond to outlined questions with detailed insightful responses based on course context and supported by relevant and reliable sources. The essay will define the methods of inquiry and denote how these methods are used in criminal investigation. The essay will analyze the optimal mindset of an investigator manifest. It will similarly give the scientific method used and how it is used by the criminal investigators. The essay will also discuss and give examples of three primary sources of information for criminal investigators.
These are investigative ways. There are scientific and non-scientific methods of inquiry used in criminal investigation. They are: the scientific method, the authority method, the tenacity method, and the intuition method. An inquiry is initiated by an observation where we want to know who, what, where, when, why or how something happens. In a scientific method, a scientist will form a hypothesis from the observation. He will then establish an experiment where all variables except one are held constant. The observed results will then prove or disapprove the hypothesis. The observed results will form a basis for future inquiry and scientific study. This is the most commonly known method of inquiry because it is the most reliable, skeptical and non- biased. In the authority method, one takes the word of a reputable figure without questioning. In the tenacity method, beliefs are based on superstition or prior beliefs without question. In the intuition method, one believes something because it feels correct or seems to make sense and it is often based on a single example (Rae, 2007).
The optimal mindset of an investigator is a mental checklist of tips, assumptions, ideas or strategies that an investigator will apply in his/her investigation. Hence the mindset is the one which is responsible for sourcing information in a criminal investigation. Different investigators adapt variant mindsets but the following concepts generally apply: recognizing that something is not right though presumed as right and consequently acting on it; figuring out who would know; understanding the system; looking out for victims and enemies for information; following the money trail; and not embracing obstacles. The concepts are associated with the optimal mindset of an investigator manifest.
The concept of realizing that something is wrong, (“smelling a rat”) is the first step in a criminal investigation. This realization is then acted upon by an investigator. The concept of figuring out who would know is very significant to an investigator in that he himself might not know. Hence the need to presume who may be having the information sought. It saves time used in searching for the information since they just contact the informant. The concept of understanding the system in use is very important to an investigator since failure to understand the system will lead to incorrect conclusions. The understanding will provide more sources of information. The concept of looking for victims and enemies is vital because they are not hard to find and are always willing to provide the information though it is usually exaggerated. The concept of following the money trail is essential as monies must be spent or transferred in a given crime. Other kinds of money like properties are also traced as they provide crucial information. The concept of not embracing obstacles keeps the investigator moving despite the challenges- he cannot afford to give up lest he gets no information (Ray, 1998).
Scientific method involves: Stating the Problem, Forming a Hypothesis, Testing the hypothesis, and analyzing the results from the tests carried out. Then, determining if the methods used were sound, and forming a new hypothesis to solve the problem. It is carried out by scientists. The scientific method is the most common and reliable as it is systematic, not biased and sticks to the objective. It involves the use of forensic investigation, analyzing finger prints and studying carefully the nuclear and mitochondrial DNA. It is therefore used in criminal investigations as hereby detailed. Forensic investigation is strategic process of lawfully establishing evidence and facts that are to be presented in a court of law. It ranges from computer crimes, murder cases and crime scenes. It is subdivided into database forensics, firewall forensics, and mobile device forensics. It is used to uncover scientific evidence for: providing enough evidence to convict or disapprove earlier evidence to release a wrongly convicted person (Taylor, 2010). Forensic investigation equally justifies, confirms, or nullifies authorized documents subject to be presented or already presented in court as evidence.
In the identification and analyzing of finger prints, a human finger touches a surface leaving behind a combination of natural oils, sweat, and other substances contacted by the suspect in form of ridges of their skin. These ridges are unique to each person, and are naturally permanent. Fingerprints are taken by coating the ridges lightly with printer’s ink and gently rolling them onto paper to display the print for recording purposes. Each finger has a different pattern. These patterns are used to indentify criminals by comparing them to those found in prints at crime scenes and to databases (Forensic Biology, 2001). For the nuclear and mitochondrial DNA study, the nuclear DNA contains the most genetic material which is from both biological parents of the specimen. Mitochondrial DNA is concerned with the human body metabolism and is readily available in a cell. It confirms the parents of a specimen (Farquart, 2010) .It also helps to indentify crime victims and potential suspects whose DNA match the evidence left at a crime scene.
There are three primary sources of information for criminal investigators namely: Documented evidence, physical evidence and people. Documented evidence includes; police reports, people’s emails, or text messages before or after a crime, and photos of the scene. This information is quite reliable as it carries no emotions and is not biased. It is not subject to any influence and cannot be easily altered. However, the police can end up documenting a wrong report if bribed. Information from physical evidence is tangible evidence relating directly to the crime. It includes; fingerprints, blood, fibers, and crime tools. However, this evidence must be scientifically analyzed and interpreted for it to be relied upon. It helps to establish the elements of a crime. For example, a bullet hole in a crime scene justifies the occurrence of shooting. It also links victims, offenders, and instruments to crime scenes. It similarly links victims to victims and offenders to instruments. Notably is that physical evidence cannot indentify a suspect if the suspect is not known. Physical evidence proofs the guilt of an indentified suspect.
The fingerprints and the DNA analysis allows for this association to be established. This evidence is the most reliable source of information in criminal investigations because it bears no emotions, cannot be manipulated and is very objective.
The information from people includes the witnesses, victims and suspects. The witness has direct knowledge of the crime as they heard or saw it happen. Victims are also directly involved in the offense. Witnesses who possess information relating to events before or after the crime, may also add relevancy to the information sought. A suspect is intertwined with the investigation of who may be responsible for the crime and hence his information is not on the affirmative. Information from the people is subject to emotions, bias and influence hence its reliability is limited (Criminal investigation, 2010).