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  • Does CSI Exist in New Mexico?

    Posted on by JACK MKHITARIAN

    CSI, or Crime Scene Investigation, does exist in the state of New Mexico as part of the New Mexico Department of Public Safety (DPS) Forensic Laboratory Bureau. DPS provides forensic science analysis and investigations to law enforcement agencies throughout the state. They have laboratories located in Santa Fe, Las Cruces, and Hobbs.

    Local law enforcement uses these forensic agencies for analysis. Unlike Hollywood’s version of CSI, the DPS group only investigates specific types of evidence for investigations, including DNA analysis, fingerprints, controlled substance analysis, and firearms. The DPS investigators do not do any taxological testing or blood alcohol testing; instead, this is handled through evidence collection by law enforcement and tested by approved laboratories.

    Not all offices perform the same evidence analysis either. Instead of being called CSI, this laboratory goes by DPS, and they are part of the state’s public safety program. As forensic specialists, they are licensed and educated professionals in their field, but they do not work the same as TV portrays them.

    Will DPS Investigate My Case?

    It is unlikely you would encounter DPS evidence analysis in your case unless your crime involves homicide, the use of controlled substances, firearms, or the state is looking for a suspect. DPS is used mostly in felony and capital cases – which are serious criminal acts. Rarely would DPS help analyze and investigate misdemeanor cases.

    Does DPS Come to the Scene of the Crime?

    Hollywood’s version of CSI depicts investigators who come out to the scene of the crime and perform on-site evidence collection. They also have fancy machines in the back of their cars doing the on-the-spot analysis so that they can quickly add a suspect’s fingerprints into the “database.” But in reality, crime scene investigation doesn’t work this way.

    Most Evidence Is Received by DPS; Not Collected

    Instead of DPS coming out to the scene, law enforcement is trained on evidence collection. Officers at the scene will collect all necessary evidence and samples and then submit it to DPS. Officers must follow a strict chain of custody procedure. This is so that evidence collected in the field, which is handed over to DPS, does not break that chain of custody.

    What Is the Chain of Custody?

    In any criminal case, the evidence is critical for both sides to prove their case. Evidence can include everything from photographs to fingerprints to DNA, and law enforcement must keep track of this evidence at all times – which is part of the chain of custody. This chain cannot be broken. Instead, it must show a seamless transition between law enforcement, other agencies, and possibly DPS laboratories.

    The chain of custody is a trail, in chronological order, showing each party that handled, analyzed, collected, and housed evidence in an on-going investigation. If the chain is broken at any point, the other side can file a motion to exclude that evidence – and most likely the court will approve that request.

    The chain ensures that evidence is not tampered with at all, which means that only honest, true evidence is used in a criminal case. When the state cannot prove that the evidence is genuine, the court may dismiss its use to ensure that the defendant receives a fair trial.

    Would DPS Testify in Court?

    If the analysis conducted by DPS comes under question, or the testimony of an expert from DPS is necessary, then yes, they could testify against you in court as an expert witness for the state. Likewise, they may testify for the defense if their finding contradicts the state’s theory.

    What If I Suspect the Chain of Custody Was Broken in My Case?

    If you suspect that the evidence in your case was not handled properly, you need to speak with a defense attorney. The process of filing motions and arguing against the authenticity of evidence, in any case, is complex. You need a legal advocate who knows the law and knows how to argue against any chain of custody questions.

    Hiring the Right Attorney Is Critical in Any Criminal Defense

    Whether you have DPS analyzing evidence in your case or not, you should have a criminal defense attorney by your side if you are facing potential jail time. Whether you were arrested for driving under the influence or a more serious crime that could result in years of imprisonment, you need an attorney with the experience to file the right motions, argue on your behalf, and deliver results.

    For your case, turn to the professionals at New Mexico Criminal Law Offices. We can help in crimes involving DPS investigations such as:

    • Drug Crimes – DPS may get involved in drug crimes, especially for testing or analyzing the properties of specific drugs.
    • Homicide or Attempted Murder – In crimes involving victim deaths or attempted murder, you can almost definitely expect to see DPS investigating the evidence from that case. DPS may analyze everything from DNA evidence to fingerprints and more.
    • Sexual Assault – DPS is often involved in sexual assault cases, even if the police arrest someone for the crime. DNA evidence is critical in these types of cases, which is why DPS will be involved to analyze DNA samples and compare them to find a match between the suspect and defendant.
    • Robbery – DPS may become involved in robbery cases, but usually only those where it is a high-value item that is stolen or a chronic period of multiple break-ins. They may analyze DNA or fingerprints

    Hire a New Mexico Defense Attorney for Your Case Today

    If you have been arrested, it is imperative that you hire the right team for your defense. Contact the attorneys at New Mexico Criminal Law Offices today for a free case evaluation. You can also reach us online for answers to your questions.

    Our attorneys are experienced in handling all matters of criminal defense, and we fight aggressively for our clients rights. We work hard to ensure a favorable outcome, and we do not back down even if DPS evidence is involved.