Understanding Criminal Investigation

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Criminal Investigation

A very important aspect of the police functions is a criminal investigation. It is a highly complex and sophisticated science that requires the coordination of efforts among several specialists. The word “investigate” is derived from the Latin word “ vestigare” meaning to track or trace. It means to follow step – by – step by patient inquiring or observation; to trace or track mentally; to search into with care and accuracy, to find out by careful inquisition; a legal inquiry etc.

The use of scientific technology to solve crime is referred to as Forensic science or criminalistics. Criminalistics is the branch of forensic science that deals with the study of physical evidence related to crime. Forensic science is the more general and frequently used term. It is that part of science applied to answering legal questions, the examination, evaluation, and explanation of physical evidence related to crime.

Criminalistics is actually just one of several branches of forensic science. Others include pathology, toxicology, physical anthropology, odontology, psychiatry, questioned documents, ballistics, tool work comparison, and serology. For easy understanding of this unit, the word criminalistics will be used interchangeably with forensic science.

The California Association of criminologists defines criminalistics as “that profession and scientific discipline directed to the recognition, identification, individualization, and evaluation of physical evidence by the application of the natural sciences to law-science matters.

Criminalistics evidence includes such clues as fingerprints, blood, and bloodstains; semen stains drugs and alcohol, hairs and fibers, and firearms/tool marks. The purposes of criminalistics are to take physical evidence from a crime scene and to use it to (1) identify the person who committed the crime and (2) Exonerate others who may be under suspicion, for example, a forensic scientist will be relied upon to establish a nexus between a crime and weapon of offense, to identify the weapon used for a particular crime - whether the pistol found on a suspect was the one that fired the bullet found in the body of a murder victim? Criminalistics evidence also can be used to establish or corroborate an element of the crime and reconstruct how a crime has been committed.


Classes of Crimes


Offenses against the Person

Crimes that involve force or threat of force

* Murder - The unlawful killing of another human being with malice aforethought.

* Manslaughter - The unlawful killing of another human being without malice aforethought.

* Aggravated Assault - An assault committed (a) with the intention of committing some additional crime, (b) with peculiar outrage or atrocity, or (c) with a dangerous or deadly weapon.

* Forcible Rape - The act of having sexual intercourse with a woman, by force, and against her will.

* Robbery - Theft from a person, accompanied by violence, or putting the person in fear.

* Kidnapping - The unlawful taking and carrying away of a human being by force and against his or her own will.


Property Offenses

Property offenses are Crimes that involve taking money or property, but usually without force or threat of force.

* Stealing (or theft) - The unlawful taking and carrying away of another person’s property with the intent of depriving the owner of that property.

* Burglary - Entering a building or occupied structure to commit a crime therein.

* Embezzlement - The willful taking or converting to one’s own use another person’s money or property which was lawfully acquired by the wrongdoer by reason of some office, employment, or position of trust.

* Arson - Purposely setting fire to a house or other building.

* Extortion/blackmail - The obtaining of property from another by wrongful use of actual or threatened force, violence, or fear or under color of official rights.

* Receiving Stolen Property - Knowingly accepting buying, or concealing goods that were illegally obtained by another person.

* Fraud - The false representation of a matter of fact, whether by words or by conduct, by false or misleading allegations, or by concealment of that which should have been disclosed, which deceives and is intended to deceive, and cause legal harm.

* Forgery - The fraudulent making of false writing having apparent legal significance.

* Counterfeiting - Falsely making, forging, or altering any obligation or other security of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, with intent to defraud.


Other Offenses

Morals” Offenses - Violations of virtue in sexual conduct (for example, fornication, seduction, prostitution, adultery, illicit cohabitation, sodomy, bigamy, and incest).

Public Order Offenses - Violation that constitutes a threat to public safety or peace (for example, disorderly conduct, loitering, unlawful assembly, drug offenses, driving while intoxicated).

Offenses against the Government - Crimes motivated by the desire to effect social change or to rebel against perceived unfair laws and government (for example, treason, sedition, hindering apprehension or prosecution of a felon, perjury, and bribery).

Offenses by Government - Harms inflicted upon people by their own governments or the government of others (for example, genocide and torture, police brutality, civil rights violations, and political bribe-taking).

(1) Hate Crimes - Criminal offenses committed against a person, property, or society and motivated, in whole or in part by the offender’s bias on grounds of ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation group.

(2) Organized Crimes - Unlawful acts of members of highly organized and disciplined associations engaged in supplying illegal goods and services, such as gambling, prostitution, loan sharking, narcotics, and labor racketeering.

(3) White-Collar and Corporate Crimes - Generally nonviolent offenses committed for financial gain by means of deception by entrepreneurs and other professionals who utilize their special occupational skills and opportunities (for example, environmental pollution, manufacture and sale of unsafe products, price-fixing, price gouging, and deceptive advertising).

(4) Occupational Crimes - Offenses committed through opportunities created in the course of a legal business or profession and crimes committed by professionals, such as lawyers and doctors, acting in their professional capacities.

(5)    Victimless Crimes - Offenses involving a willing and private exchange of goods or services that are in strong demand but are illegal (for example, gambling, prostitution, drug law violations, and homosexual acts between consenting adults).



Compiled By:

Ohio O. Ojeagbase - MBA, MSc, ERMAP, D.Min, PhD

Publisher, ProbitasReport (Online Integrity-In-Business News Reporting & Debt Recovery Firm)

National Coordinator of CAFFIN (COALITION AGAINST FINANCIAL FRAUD IN NIGERIA)

Email: info@kreenoholdings.com And Tel: +2347088325000

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