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I recently attended one of your property and evidence classes and found that the information that was discussed related to purging and disposition was extremely helpful. While reviewing my notes, I wrote something down about a method of purging large amounts of evidence without having to fully researching 10 and 20 year old cases, where in some cases the original case have been purged. Does this sound right?
Dear Martin Morstuf,
You are correct! When we visit property rooms across the country and while doing our two-day classes, we found that more often than not tracking 80% - 90% of our student's inventories may be misdemeanor evidence and years old. When you look around the US, the Statute of Limitation in most states is one year. There are some exceptions where two and three years may be the norm. In Michigan it is six years. For the purpose of this discussion, whether it's one, two or three years, when the Statute of Limitation has been reached and there is no warrant for the suspect, the case may be almost impossible to prosecute. Let's ask the question, why do we still have it? Easy answer, NOT ENOUGH TIME to research and purge.
One method of reducing unneeded inventory from the evidence room is to select items that have exceeded their respective statute of limitations and examine if they are candidates for purging. If they meet certain criteria, they are categorically deemed to be "purgable", and a designated police manager / administrator and prosecutor approves the culling. This is also known as an "Administrative Kill". This is not without risk, as there may be warrants issued, there may be companion cases, multiple defendants, or appeals pending but under certain circumstances a possible way to purge. There are also categories of serious crimes that may contain DNA that should not be categorically purged.
The Administrative Kill is where there is a buy in from the Chief or Sheriff and prosecutor to purge certain types of evidence. Included below is memo from a California Department and the County Prosecutor to the Property Room that has given them full authority to purge certain aged and identified property and evidence without any other approvals.
IAPE always suggests that the "Administrative Kill" proposal is always approved by the Chief or Sheriff as well as the agency's legal counsel and or Prosecutor. -
This memo was for a California department and
the Penal Code Section are for example only
Example only for California
OFFICE OF THE CHIEF OF POLICE
XXXXX POLICE DEPARTMENT
To: Property and Evidence Unit
Subject: Disposal of Property and Evidence
Date: Aril 22, 2017
In order to deal with the critical overstock of property and evidence in the Property and Evidence Unit, and after consulting with the XXXXX County District Attorney's Office, all evidence and property associated with any case that it is not the subject of a court order or a request to retain/preserve evidence, and fits one of the two below criteria may be disposed of per the provisions of departmental policy:
- Any case that is not charged or being actively investigated and meets one of the below criteria:
- Misdemeanor/infraction case one year old or older whose statute of limitations is one year as defined by California Penal Code section 802, except for firearm related cases.
- Felony property crime two years or older whose statue of limitations is three years as defined by California Penal Code Section 801.
- Felony property crime two years or older whose statute of limitations is four years as defined by California Penal Code Section 801.
- Health and Safety Code case two years or older whose statute of limitation is three years as defined by California Penal Code Section 800.
- Health and Safety Code case two years or older whose statute of limitation is six years as defined by California Penal Code Section 800.
- Any case that has been adjudicated that is not a sex crime, firearm related case, kidnapping (207-209 PC), first degree burglary (459 PC), robbery (211 PC), assault with a deadly weapon (245 PC), shooting at a dwelling or vehicle (246 PC), or attempted murder or murder (664/187 PC or 187 PC) and meets one of the below criteria:
- Misdemeanor/infraction case whose statue of limitation is one year as defined by California Penal Code section 802.
- Felony case whose statue of limitations is three years as defined by California Penal Code Section 801.
- Felony case whose statute of limitations is four years as defined by California Penal Code Section 801.
- Health and Safety Code whose statute of limitation is six years as defined by California Penal Code Section 800.
The Property and Evidence Unit Supervisor shall ensure that all items to be destroyed meet the above criteria prior to destruction. The Property and Evidence Unit Supervisor shall not interpret this order to mean that all items that fit these criteria must be destroyed and shall use their discretion when determining what items should be destroyed.
By order of
Assistant District Attorney
Chief of Police
County District Attorneys Office
*Always communicate with your legal representative before attempting this process.
Headline of the Month
DNA from 36-year old gum leads to cold case manslaughter conviction
April 2, 2017
A 60-year-old British man was convicted of manslaughter in March after investigators pulled traces of his DNA from a 36-year-old piece of gum left behind at the crime scene and a letter he later sent in an attempt to deflect blame.
Osmond Bell was sentenced to 12 years in prison on March 22 for the 1981 murder of Nova Welsh, an ex-lover of Bell's with whom he had two children. The jury acquitted Bell of the more serious murder charge after the six-week tria Welsh was 24 - and dating a new boyfriend - when a jealous Bell "used forced on her neck, which in fact killed her," Judge Patrick Thomas said, according to
Bell then stuffed Welsh's body in a cabinet. But his crucial mistake was leaving behind a piece of gum, which was used to seal the cupboard's lock.
"Having killed her, you concealed her body, doing nothing to assuage the pain and grief of your own children," Thomas said. Bell was first arrested in 1981; however, he was eventually let go due to a lack of evidence. But advances in technology provided the proof needed to bring him to justice.
"The family can now have closure knowing the person who took Nova's life has been brought to justice," Nova's mom, Lorna Welsh, told the
Every day cold case homicides are being solved with DNA. There is a likely hood that when the crime occurred 35 years ago, none of your current employees were working there or even born.. There is evidence in our evidence room that have been forgotten about.
Every day cold case homicides are being solved with DNA. There is a likely hood that when the crime occurred 35 years ago, none of your current employees were working there or even born.. There is evidence in our evidence room that have been forgotten about. Remember when you digging around in your property room, be on the look out for some of these old cases and let some one know and get it sent to the crime lab for testing.
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