What legal issues should be considered when embarking on a task force investigative strategy? Background

What legal issues should be considered when embarking on a task force investigative strategy?
Background

A significant criminal event may occur at any place and at any time. The size of the jurisdiction does not dictate the scope and scale of the incident. It is perfectly possible, even predictable, that investigative needs will be beyond the resources and/or sophistication of a local law enforcement agency. In such cases, one option is to expand the resources available through multiagency collaboration and cooperation (e.g., a task force). However, regardless of who or how many investigative resources are brought to bear on an incident, the parent agency remains responsible for the successful outcome of the criminal investigation.

Project Setting

Acting as a subject matter expert on criminal investigation, you have been asked to assist in the creation of a simulation exercise of a multijurisdictional criminal investigation. Some of the preliminary work has already been completed. Your specific task is to compile the post investigation review document (rubric) to be used by exercise assessors in their evaluation of the quality of the criminal investigation. This is what you know:

A series of 11 random explosions have occurred in an area that traverses two states, and a total of seven counties (five counties in one state and two counties in the other state), embracing a total of nine cities and incorporated towns. The explosions resulted in five deaths, 32 injuries, and significant property damage. In each case, the explosion was detonated remotely. The lead investigative agency is the Virtual, Maryland, Police Department, because the first three explosions occurred within its jurisdiction. VPD has about 100 sworn personnel, including 17 all-purpose detective investigators. It has a certified forensic laboratory for rudimentary analysis, staffed by credentialed civilians. Ultimately, two suspects were identified and apprehended, one adult male and one teenage (minor) male. Statements were made by each, resulting in investigative searches and seizures of forensic evidence. Both subjects eventually confessed to their respective and collective parts in the crimes.

Assessors in the simulation exercise will be debriefing the role players as to their actions; their understanding of the legal basis, purpose, and advantages and disadvantages of their investigative strategies; and the conduct of the investigation. The assessors have already come up with a series of questions for the participants. You have been asked to provide the “model” answer against which the responses of the participants will be graded.

Following are the questions to be posed by the simulation exercise assessors to the investigators:

Investigative Task Force
Assuming that legal authority was not an issue, should this investigation be conducted by VPD personnel or a multijurisdictional task force?
At what point should the potential of establishing an investigative task force be considered?
What are the advantages and disadvantages of an investigative task force?
Who, or what entities, should be involved in the decision to create an investigative task force?
Assuming, on balance, that you favor a task force approach, what difficulties do you foresee, and how will each be addressed?
What demands and/or concessions should VPD exercise in order to employ a cooperative task force in this particular case?
Legal Issues
1. What legal issues should be considered when embarking on a task force investigative strategy?

2. How are each of these issues resolved?

3. Forensic Evidence Collection and Analysis

Without regard to individual items of forensic evidence, describe the steps necessary to ensure that items, materials, and samples are eligible as forensic evidence in a criminal proceeding.
Why?
In what ways do the evidence collection procedures differ at the scenes of the explosions versus the residences of each of the suspects?
4. Testimonial Evidence

1. Describe the steps necessary to ensure that verbal or written communications from each of the suspects are eligible as testimonial evidence in a criminal proceeding.

2. Describe the direct and indirect consequences if the testimonial evidence is deemed inadmissible by the trial court.

5. Public Information


 

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