U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Firearms Examiner Training

Evidence Receipt

Home  |  Glossary  |  Resources  |  Help  |  Contact Us  |  Course Map

Evidence Receipt

Typically, the firearm examiner receives firearms recovered during criminal investigations. Each firearm should be properly packaged and accompanied by documentation providing details of the incident and the examinations requested. Regardless of the incident-specific requests, there are a number of routine examinations performed by the examiner.

Prior to conducting any type of examination, the sequence of evidence examination must be determined. If examinations such as fingerprinting or biological tests need to be performed, these should be completed before the firearm examination commences. The firearm examiner must ensure that the firearm is unloaded and in a safe mode prior to other examinations being performed.

Any evidence handled by the firearm examiner should be marked according to laboratory protocol prior to conducting any examinations. Generally, the evidence is marked, but in some cases (e.g., when the evidence is too small), the container is marked. Methods of marking evidence include scribing (manual or electric), which etches the item itself. Methods of marking evidence packaging include tagging, or labeling with permanent marker.

View an example of an evidence receipt form.

Examination Documentation

Documentation must be complete and accurate. The examiner needs to develop effective work habits that include a thorough and consistent approach to examination. A worksheet should be completed per laboratory protocol. Laboratory forms will assist in this process, but the examiner should not be limited to simply completing checklists. Including crucial information beyond that required on the forms will enable the examiner to describe and defend findings and conclusions.

Whenever the examiner must research a particular firearm to determine pertinent information (such as disassembly, assembly, operation, or history), copies of this research data should be included in the case folder. This practice can assist the examiner when the case is being adjudicated. A prudent examiner makes a separate copy of this data and catalogs it for future use.

Read a sample forensic worksheet and report - Firearms.

Back Forward