The Final Verdict on 3D Crime Scene Mapping

Sept. 27, 2013 – When a criminal case goes to trial, helping the jury accurately visualize the scene of the crime is key to getting a just verdict. Increasingly, 3D laser scanning is the tool of choice for creating these visualizations—and for good reason. Police departments and crime labs are finding that 3D laser scanning dramatically improves their ability to capture accurate representations of homicide scenes and virtually take the jury to those scenes to help them understand the environment and events.

A True 3D View of the Crime Scene

Veteran crime scene investigators who use laser scanners to support their work have reported that jurors watch their trial testimony with rapt attention as they take them on a virtual tour of the crime scene using software such as Leica TruView. The software combines panoramic photography with millions of measurements of the scene to provide investigators and jurors with a comprehensive and accurate immersive 3D experience. The interest level of the jury increases as soon as the visualization is launched.

3D Scanning and the ‘CSI Effect’

The jury’s interest in 3D crime scene mapping can be at least partially attributed to the “CSI effect”—a fascination with crime scenes resulting from the way forensic science has been portrayed in television series such as CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, which first aired in 2000. However, a 2009 National Academy of Sciences report concluded that much of forensic science is not grounded in science at all. This finding has led to an increased scrutiny of the tools and techniques used to conduct crime scene investigations. Is 3D laser scanning a legitimate tool that can be upheld in the courtroom?

The Daubert standard is a rule of evidence regarding the admissibility of expert witness testimony during United States federal legal proceedings. In today’s digital age, it’s also stringent standard for the admissibility of scientific evidence. By using a 3D laser scanner that has successfully passed a Daubert hearing, along with methods that have been scientifically validated, CSI agents, police officers, prosecutors and other public safety professionals can help ensure that not only is 3D laser scanning data admissible in a courtroom, but it also leads to justice being served in an increasing number of cases.

To learn more more about the admissibility of laser scan data, contact us.


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