Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Investigating the Crime Scene First Hand

In almost every criminal case the alleged crime occurred at a specific location or locations. In every case it is essential that the attorney representing the accused to personally go to the crime scene location, to first hand view the crime scene and the surrounding area. Never should the defense attorney rely upon the police reports or police report pictures to depict or describe the crime scene area. By personally viewing the crime scene, the attorney will often discover that the state's witnesses could not have been able to view or observe things that they claim they did from their vantage point, as stated in their written statements or police reports.

Only when the attorney for the defendant personally goes to the crime scene and compares his observations to the police reports and witness statements can he ascertain whether the witness statements and/or police reports are accurate. Even if such a determination cannot be made by going to the crime scene, the attorney, nevertheless, can use his crime scene knowledge in his cross-examination to show the witness and ultimately the jurors that he is familiar with the area. This familiarity will sometimes, but not always, curtail prosecution witnesses from lying about lighting conditions, view obstructions, and distances from specific locations within the crime scene.

Therefore, when viewing the crime scene the defense attorney must bring with him a tape measurement devise, digital camera, and, if possible, an investigator, who can be called by the defense, if necessary, to refute any inconsistencies testified by the state's witnesses about the crime scene.

Therefore, if possible, an early view of the crime scene by defense counsel is an essential requirement in every criminal case in which a crime was alleged to have occurred in a specific location.

Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr., Esq.

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