Eye for Evidence-Search Warrant Photos

Feb. 15, 2021
A picture really is worth a thousand words.

Search warrants are part of almost every investigation. They provide insight into a situation and a lawful way to obtain evidence and information you may be looking for. One of the most important components of search warrants are the photos. This type of evidence is immeasurable which is why it is so important to take good photos. 

First of all, photos must be taken before the house, car, or location is actually searched. These photos are so important because they show the condition of the location before you began to physically search it. The timestamp on your camera will or should coincide with the time that is documented regarding when the warrant was executed. When you take the initial photos be thorough! If it is a home, take photos from the street, and of all sides of the home. Next enter and take photos of each room in order as best as you can.

The next set of photos are the photos of any evidence you come across. These should be taken carefully as well so that when you get to court you can be sure that your information, and the location where you found that evidence, is accurate. It may be difficult sometimes to take photos in order of the items you find especially if there are several investigators and only one camera. However, do your best to keep them in the order that the evidence was found in. Ensure that the photo depicts exactly where the item was found. Also, take an additional photo with a scale as well as an evidence marker. (This will also help you keep the evidence straight.)

Lastly, take photos right before you leave the premises. It is best to take the same type as the first round of photos. That way you can prove that the state of the home or location is not much different than when you found it. 

It may seem tedious but as a former crime scene investigator, I can safely say it is imperative. Quality photos will help you remember the incidet and will help you in court. You can't beat accuracy when it comes to investigation.  

About the Author

Hilary Rodela

Hilary Rodela is currently a Surveillance Officer, a former Private Investigator, a former Crime Scene Investigator, and Evidence Technician. She worked for the Ruidoso (NM) Police Department as well as the Lubbock (TX) Police Department. She has written for several public safety publications and has extensive law enforcement and forensic training and is pursuing forensic expertise in various disciplines. Hilary is a freelance public safety writer and curriculum developer for the National Investigative Training Academy.

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