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The methods of inquiry used in criminal investigation are based on gathering of measurable, observable and empirical pieces of evidence. The purpose of enquiry is to obtain evidence or pieces of evidence that an investigator can use in the prosecution of a criminal case. The applicable methods of inquiry include collection of statements and pieces of evidence, as well as going through the internet and relevant databases where necessary (Ward, 2010). The use of the methods of inquiry helps the investigator in the reconstruction of the crime scene by answering the questions such as what, who, where, how and when. There are two broad categories of the methods of inquiry; the historian investigator category and the scientists' category. The historian investigator category reconstruct the past while the scientist investigator category creates new knowledge about an ongoing investigation.
The two categories are used together to help reconstruct the past and the present. The methods of inquiry are used by the investigators to collect pieces of evidence using forensic medicine, anthropology, computer technology, criminalistics, statistics, geography and geology in an attempt to solve a crime. The pieces of information obtained using the methods of inquiry help the investigator to form hypothesis on any possible occurrences used in determining criminal culpability (Geberth, 2015). This can be achieved by determining if crimes are related in any way. What the investigator gets from the inquiry can either disapprove or approve the hypothesis formed by the investigator about the case under investigation. For instance, a case where there is a break-in and murder but nothing is stolen; the investigators' hypothesis should seek answers as to why the killer did not take anything out of the murder scene (Ward, 2010). At the end of the investigation, the result will prove or disapprove the hypothesis. The three methods of inquiry include tenacity, authority and intuition.
The Steps to Reconstruct a Case
Reconstruction involves steps that set stage for crime investigation. For example, in a case of a break-in but nothing is stolen, the steps of crime scene reconstruction will include data collection, conjuncture, hypothesis formulation, hypothesis testing, and theory formation. At the data collection stage, all pieces of information are collected, including witness statements, information collected from the crime scene, and victim statements. The stage involves review, organization and study of data including obvious impressions, obvious patterns, conditions of the victims and the conditions of the evidence among others. At the conjuncture stage, possible explanations are put forward to pave way for analysis of the pieces of evidence obtained (Ward, 2010). For instance, a conjuncture could be that the person who broke in had the intention of killing the owner of the house and not stealing anything. A conjuncture or the possible explanations, as defined in the criminal act, cannot be the only explanation to the events of a crime under investigation, as there may be other explanations.
The third step in reconstruction is the formulation of hypothesis. For instance a hypothesis in the case of the break in would be that the suspect is a hired assassin. The pieces of evidence gathered from the scene of crime including finger print evidence, impression patterns, bloodstain patterns, trace evidence analysis, and gunshot patterns among others are important in guessing what might have transpired. The guess based on the analysis of the pieces of information gathered from the scene of crime is the hypothesis. Another important stage in reconstruction, which forms the fourth step, is known as testing (Bandyopadhyay, 2018). The hypothesis formulated must be tested so that it can either be proved or disapproved. In order to test the hypothesis, comparison of samples from thencrime scene including alibi, standard, microscopic and chemical samples is done (Geberth, 2015). Besides, experimentation or controlled testing of possible physical activities are done to corroborate the formulated hypothesis. After testing of the hypothesis, the last step follows, which is the formation of theory. After following the previous steps, that involve collection and analysis of pieces of evidence from a crime scene, testing and verification of the analysis is done after which the result is considered as plausible theory. The theory formed in this case should explain the reason why the person who broke into another person's house left without stealing anything.
How Reconstructing a Crime Scene aids in understanding the Fundamentals of Criminal Investigations
In the field of criminology, reconstruction f a crime scene involves the use of physical evidences, methodological approaches, inductive and deductive reasoning to understand the series of events that led to the crime. As a process, crime scene reconstruction helps the investigators explore the available pieces of evidence and interpret them as a way of reducing the scope of investigation and facilitating the arrest of suspects so that prosecution can proceed to court trial. Steps such as blending the collected pieces of evidence, and observing the nature of offender's signature in forensic science are involved in the reconstruction of a crime scene (Bandyopadhyay, 2018). Crime scene reconstruction aids criminal investigations as it involves processes such as expert collection of relevant materials, data collection, observation, linking of the available pieces of evidence to the offence, and scientific tests.
Crimes cannot be solved without the investigators having to work out puzzles and come up with deductions and hypotheses about what might have transpired. Working puzzles requires that crime scene reconstruction is done to get the pieces of information the investigators require. Identification of witnesses is another fundamental of criminal investigation that is dependent of reconstruction (Geberth, 2015). That is because the potential witnesses have to be vetted to ensure they are true witnesses. The hypotheses and theories formulated about the crimes under investigation in crime scene reconstruction are important in narrowing down the scope of investigation. For instance, crime scene reconstruction helps in reducing the number of suspects and coming up with the one who is seemingly most culpable. That way, apprehension of suspects becomes more accurate. In as much as conviction or apprehension of offenders depends on the outcome of the court trial, the materials used in court come from crime scene reconstruction. This makes the process important in the entire process of crime solving.
Bandyopadhyay, S. (2018). Analysis for Crime Scene Investigation and Reconstruction. Forensic Science & Addiction Research, 3(3). doi: 10.31031/fsar.2018.03.000567
Geberth, V. (2015). Practical Homicide Investigation : Tactics, Procedures, and Forensic Techniques, Fifth Edition. Taylor & Francis Group.
Ward, R. (2010). Criminal Investigation. Anderson.
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