7 Steps of a Crime Scene Investigation

Illustrated infographic with an outdoor, wooded, night time theme which shows investigators working through the 7 steps of a crime scene investigation.

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Advance Your Career in Criminal Justice

A career in criminal justice can lead you to many roles along the path of crime scene investigation. If you’re interested in earning your criminal justice degree online, Campbellsville University offers three options.

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7 Steps of a Crime Scene Investigation

Crime scene examination is complex. How officers approach the crime scene of a burglary differs from that of a homicide. Indoor, outdoor and conveyance crime scenes all have unique aspects to consider.

Still, these seven steps of a crime scene investigation remain no matter where or what the crime. (1)  Find out how these steps apply to any investigation.

1. Identify Scene Dimensions

  • Locate the focal point of the scene
  • Establish a perimeter large enough to contain relevant evidence

It’s better to establish a larger scene than needed. (2)

2. Establish Security

  • Tape around the perimeter
  • Depending on the number of people, consider security guards

3. Create a Plan & Communicate

  • Determine the type of crime that occurred
  • Identify any threats to evidence, such as weather
  • Consider if additional resources are necessary
  • Communicate with your team about how to proceed

Outdoor crime scenes are more vulnerable to loss due to the elements. (3)

4. Conduct Primary Survey

  • Identify potential evidence
  • Capture photographs and take good notes

5. Document and Process Scene

  • Using the plan from step three, begin processing the scene
  • Collect all evidence and keep detailed documentation

It is imperative to follow proper procedures for collection so that no evidence is destroyed or contaminated.

6. Conduct Secondary Survey

  • Conduct another walkthrough to ensure everything has been processed and recorded

7. Record and Preserve Evidence

  • Use an inventory log to account for all evidence
  • Create thorough descriptions that match photographs taken at the scene
  • Follow a clear chain of custody throughout the investigation

By following those simple steps and getting the right education, you’ll be ready to join the field as a crime scene investigator!

Interested in Crime Scene Investigation?

A career in criminal justice can lead you to many roles along the path of crime scene investigation, from the front lines to evidence processing. If you’re interested in earning your online criminal justice degree, Campbellsville University offers three options, including an online A.S. in Criminal Justice, an online B.S. in Criminal Justice Administration and an online M.S. in Justice Studies.