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Electronic Crime Scene Investigation: A Guide for First Responders

NCJ Number
Date Published
July 2001
96 pages
This guide provides information and suggestions for the first responders to a variety of crime scenes regarding the recognition, collection, and preservation of electronic evidence.
Electronic evidence is information and data of investigative value that is stored on or transmitted by an electronic device. Equipment and software are required to make the evidence visible, and testimony may be required to explain the examination process and any process limitations. Electronic evidence is, but its very nature, fragile. It can be altered, damaged, or destroyed by improper handling or improper examination. Thus, special precautions should be taken to document, collect, preserve, and examine this type of evidence. This guide suggests methods that will help preserve the integrity of such evidence. The first chapter profiles the variety of the types of electronic devices commonly encountered in crime scenes, provides a general description of each type of device, and describes its common uses. It also describes the potential evidence that may be found in each type of equipment. Chapter 2 lists the investigative tools and equipment that might be used in the collection and handling of electronic evidence. These include documentation tools, disassembly-and-removal tools, and package and transport supplies. Chapter 3, which focuses on securing and evaluating the crime scene, outlines the steps necessary to ensure the safety of all persons at the scene while protecting the integrity of all evidence, both traditional and electronic. Chapter 4 provides guidelines for documenting the scene, which creates a permanent historical record of the scene. Chapter 5 suggests evidence-collection procedures for nonelectronic evidence, stand-alone and laptop computer evidence, computers in a complex environment, and other electronic devices and peripheral evidence. Chapter 6 then addresses procedures for packaging, transportation, and storage of electronic evidence. The concluding chapter provides guidelines for the forensic examination of electronic evidence by 14 crime categories. Appended glossary, legal resources list, technical resources list, training resources list, list of organizations, and 50 references

Date Published: July 1, 2001