Protocol for processing a vehicle for physical evidence
By Hayden B. Baldwin


The protocol is based on ICSIA’s Crime Scene Processing Protocol.

Interview, examine, photograph, sketch and process


1. Obtain all information regarding the vehicle in question. (who,what,how,where)

2. Examine the vehicle to verify it is the correct vehicle and make thorough notes of your observations of the exterior and interior condition of the vehicle.

3. Photograph the entire vehicle, inside and out, engine compartment and trunk, vehicle ID and all tire patterns.

4. Use a vehicle diagram to identify where evidence was recovered.

5. Process the vehicle for physical and testimonial evidence.

        a. Non destructive to destructive methods.

        b. Examine the vehicle with a white light, and forensic light source.

        c. Identify, remove and process items not associated to the vehicle.

        d. Recover trace evidence by taping the vehicle’s seats, floor, and trunk.

        e. Photograph and recover by swabbing or removing any suspicious stains.

                   i. Blood marks, patterns

                   ii. Seminal or Vagina Fluid

                   iii. Other suspicious stains.

        f. Swab the textured surfaces for DNA potential. This includes but not limited to; steering wheel, dash, inside door handle and gear shift.

        g. Process vehicle for latent and patent prints.

                    i. Superglue fume if possible.

                    ii. Use contrasting powders to process for ridge detail.

                    iii. Photograph all prints prior to recovering them.

                    iv. Lift the prints and properly mark the backer cards with exhibit number, case information and where the lift was recovered.

                             1. If using fluorescent powder mark the lifts with "FLO"

                             2. Always indicate on lift with an arrow the direction of up or away from you for proper viewing orientation.

          h. Chemical process when required for blood patterns and latent prints.

6. Package all evidence in paper, properly mark and seal.

If possible the exterior of the vehicle should be processed prior to moving the vehicle to another location. Always consider the Secondary Scene.

The vehicle to be processed must be secured properly to preserve the integrity of the evidence. The vehicle should be transported to a location and not driven.

The location for the processing of the vehicle must be sufficient to allow access to all compartments of the vehicle. This means sufficient room to open all doors, trunk and hood PLUS room for movement around the vehicle with the compartments opened.

Elimination prints (Major case prints) must be obtained from those who have legal access to the vehicle and if bodily fluid is found then elimination DNA should also be collected


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