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Preliminary Investigation: Definition, Steps, Analysis & Example

Preliminary Investigation: Definition, Steps, Analysis & Example
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  • 0:01 What Is a Preliminary…
  • 0:30 Steps
  • 1:33 Analysis
  • 2:08 Example
  • 3:20 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jessica Schubert

Jessica is a practicing attorney and has taught law and has a J.D. and LL.M.

Discover what a preliminary investigation is. Review the definition and look at the steps involved in this type of law enforcement investigation. Examine the preliminary investigation process and gain insight through analysis and an example.

What is a Preliminary Investigation?

Chances are that you've watched an episode of television's Law and Order. In Law and Order, the first half of the show is devoted to police work and investigation, while the second half pertains to the legal system. During the police work section, the crime is investigated. This typically involves a preliminary investigation of the crime. Preliminary investigation is a process that includes all of the activities a responding police officer performs at the scene of the crime.

Steps

Step 1. In a preliminary investigation, the officer must first attend to any injured parties and obtain proper care for them. This step includes checking vital signs, calling an ambulance and working with EMTs if necessary.

Step 2. Next, the officer observes the scene. This observation includes the position of the victim, any items near the victim, and any unusual activities at the scene.

Step 3. Next, the officer will make a determination that a crime was committed. Once this occurs, the officer will begin an enforcement action. An enforcement action includes pursuing an offender, making an arrest, or sending out an identifying description of the offender for other officers to utilize.

Step 4. Furthermore, the officer will secure the crime scene, making sure that any evidence is preserved and no one tampers with anything at the scene.

Step 5.Next, the officer will interview witnesses in order to obtain witness statements.

Step 6. Finally, the officer compiles a report of his or her work. All of this information is used in the formal post-crime scene investigation.

Analysis

An officer's analysis of a crime scene typically begins as soon as the officer receives a call. The officer takes note of any vehicles leaving the scene or any suspicious observers at the crime scene. The officer then typically speaks to any observers or witnesses to gather information. Thereafter, crime scene investigators arrive.

Crime scene investigators are experts trained in forensics. These investigators conduct such activities as photographing the scene, taking fingerprints, interviewing witnesses and more. All of this information provides the basis of an officer's analysis.

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