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Proper Tagging and Labeling of Evidence for Later Identification

Proper Tagging and Labeling of Evidence
for Later Identification

by Mike Byrd

Miami-Dade Police Department
Crime Scene Investigations


Often times we do not understand the importance of the little things that we do until we have done them. It is the little things that make us stand out. "Do not speak of your work, however allow your work to speak for you."

What is the purpose of tagging and labeling items of evidence?

The primary purpose for the crime scene investigator or evidence recovery technician, in tagging and marking items of evidence is so that he/she will be able to easily identify those items at a later date. The tagging, labeling and marking of the evidence adds credibility and control to our ability to identifying the item.

What is the chain of custody?

The important chain of custody for the evidence at a crime scene usually starts with the collection done by the investigator-technician. The marking and labeling begins our control and custody of the items of evidence. The chain of custody is defined as the witnessed, written record of all of the individuals who maintained unbroken control over the items of evidence. It establishes the proof that the items of evidence collected at the crime scene is the same evidence that is being presented in a court of law.

What does the chain of custody establish?

  • who had contact with the evidence
  • the date and time the evidence was handled
  • the circumstances for the evidence being handled
  • what changes, if any, were made in the evidence
Property Tag
Properly tagging all evidence


What information belongs on the tag?

All evidence collected at the crime scene should be tagged. If the item cannot be tagged then it should be labeled or marked. Consistency should always be adhered to in the information that is used for marking and labeling the evidence.

  • description of item
  • police case number or identifier
  • date
  • location of collection
  • collectors name and identifier
  • brand name
  • any serial number or garment information
Evidence Package
Properly marking and labeling evidence packages


What about the information marking the outside of the evidence package?

Similar information should be labeled are marked on the outside of the packaging mediums.

  • type of case
  • date
  • location of collection
  • item description
  • police case number or identifier
  • serial number or garment identifier
  • collector's name and identifier information
  • where item is being routed to for analysis

You will be amazed at how easy and organized these tips will be for your identification of the evidence when it is presented in a court of law.