U.S. flag

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

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Triage of Forensic Evidence Testing: A Guide for Prosecutors

NCJ Number
Date Published
July 2019
49 pages
This paper examines how best to maximize the resources of a public forensic laboratory, with a focus on the prosecutor's perspective.
The first of three main sections of the paper explains how to create an executive-level Customer Working Group and its benefits. This section notes police and attorneys cannot avoid their duty to both learn the science and to understand the many issues related to the proper use of the forensic evidence. The formation of a Customer Working Group (CWG) and the holding of regular CWG meetings facilitates interaction and information exchanges among laboratory leadership and senior members of its "customer" agencies. Example of CWGs are provided from New York City and Onondaga County, New York. The second major section of this paper addresses the "Triage of Forensic Evidence Testing." This section discusses how to triage the collection and testing of forensic evidence recovered from a crime. This involves determining and structuring who makes decisions and when. Communication and training are fundamental initial steps in creating an effective triage system. Also discussed in this section are protocols to guide the triage process, guidance on the decision-making process, and examples of approaches in various jurisdictions. The third major section of this paper discusses the procedural management of "Guns, DNA, and Fingerprints." The methods for testing guns for ballistics, DNA, and fingerprints is an example of the need for protocols and the sharing of data about test methods and results. Of primary importance is the coordination between the forensic lab, the police, and the prosecutor. Examples of such coordination are provided from the Indianapolis Police Department (Indiana), the Phoenix Police Department (Arizona), and the East Baton Rouge District Attorney's Office (Louisiana). Appended forms and materials from some of the examples