Question

You have been called to investigate a bank robbery that took place

during the banks normal operating hours. Once on scene you are told that a person came into the occupied bank, displayed a hand gun and forced one of the bank tellers at gun point to open her cash drawer. The teller complied with the suspect, the suspect then took all of the money in the cash drawer, fired a shot from their handgun into the ceiling and fled the bank.  

-What type(s) of evidence do you think you could collect from this scene? Be specific. 
-Discuss the crime(s) that took place and whether they are a violation of state or federal law(s) and provide the correct case law reference for the violations. 
-Discuss what you believe to be the two most important aspects regarding the identification and seizure of evidence in this case and why.   

Answer & Explanation
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As an investigator, I could collect four (4) types of evidence from the crime scene, i.e. (a) Real or Physical Evidence; (b) Testimonial Evidence; (c) Demonstrative Evidence; and (d) Documentary Evidence. 

 

Based on the facts given, the suspect committed armed bank robbery, which is a violation of federal law. 

 

In the identification and seizure of evidence in this case, it is necessary to preserve the crime scene and establish the chain of custody.

Step-by-step explanation

A. What type(s) of evidence do you think you could collect from this scene? Be specific. 

 

As an investigator, I could collect four (4) types of evidence from the crime scene, i.e. (a) Real or Physical Evidence; (b) Testimonial Evidence; (c) Demonstrative Evidence; and (d) Documentary Evidence.  

 

The Real or Physical Evidence consists of the tangible objects that may be physically held and inspected from the crime scene, and includes the following: (a) the bullet fired by the suspect into the ceiling; (b) fingerprints of the suspect, if may be obtained from the crime scene; (c) footprint patterns of the suspect; (d) closed circuit television (CCTV) footage or records images of the suspect; and (e) the cash drawer where the money was stored.

 

The Testimonial Evidence pertains to the statements of the persons present when the crime happened. These statements may be obtained from: (a) the bank tellers; (b) the bank's security guards; (c) the bank customers; and (d) any person within or even outside the bank who witnessed the crime.

 

The Demonstrative Evidence consists of maps or drawings of the crime scene, i.e. the bank. As an investigator, I may request the witnesses to illustrate through drawings the exact position of the suspect in the bank during the crime. These drawings are considered demonstrative evidence.

 

The Documentary Evidence refers to documents that may be obtained from the crime scene, and which may help in establishing the criminal case against the suspect. This type of evidence includes the: (a) bank records which would show the amount of money in the cash drawer, which is also the amount of money taken by the suspect; and (b) log book or log sheet of the security guard when the incident happened.

 

B. Discuss the crime(s) that took place and whether they are a violation of state or federal law(s) and provide the correct case law reference for the violations.

 

The suspect committed armed bank robbery, which is a violation of federal law. Under 18 U.S. Code § 2113(d), an armed bank robbery is committed when a person took money that was in the care, custody, control, management, or possession of a bank, through the use of force and violence, or intimidation, and with the use of a dangerous weapon. 

 

In this case, it is undeniable that the suspect took the money that was in the custody or possession of the bank. It is likewise undeniable that the suspect employed intimidation upon the bank tellers because the bank tellers feared bodily harm when he displayed a hand gun and forced to take the money. In United States v. Askari, 140 F.3d 536, 521 (3d Cir. 1998), the Third Circuit held that there is intimidation when an ordinary person in the teller's position could reasonably infer a threat of bodily harm from the defendant's acts. 

 

Further, the suspect used a dangerous weapon, i.e. a gun, while taking the money. In McLaughlin v. United States, 476 U.S. 16, 17 (1986), the Supreme Court held that "a gun is an article that is typically and characteristically dangerous; the use for which it is manufactured and sold is a dangerous one, and the law reasonably may presume that such an article is always dangerous x x x."

 

C. Discuss what you believe to be the two most important aspects regarding the identification and seizure of evidence in this case and why.

 

In the identification and seizure of evidence, it is important that the crime scene by preserved with minimal contamination and disturbance of physical evidence. The preservation of crime scene is necessary in order to ensure that the evidence obtained therein is not altered because the same could affect the credibility of the investigation. 

 

The other important aspect in the identification and seizure of evidence is establishing the chain of custody. Chain of custody is the process used to maintain and document the handling of the evidence. This process is important because it will assure the court that the evidence presented in court is the same as the one seized in the crime scene.