Evidence Submissions

Service Manual   Table of Contents

All submissions of exhibits must be connected to criminal or coroner cases investigations. No evidence will be analyzed for private individuals or corporations . No evidence involving routine drug and/or blood alcohol testing of probation cases will be analyzed. However, these services may be requested when an individual is suspected of a criminal offense and the requesting department is pursuing probation revocation.

Several methods may be used to submit evidence to the laboratory. The method selected will depend upon the type and size of the item, the urgency, and the complexity of the case. Whatever method is used, the officer submitting the evidence must take care to ensure that the evidence will not be lost, damaged, or contaminated and that the chain of custody will be as short as possible.

In general

All evidence must be properly packaged and sealed. Some items of evidence (e.g. vehicles, large bulky items, etc.) may be submitted as is.

The laboratory must receive at least one DOFS Submission Form every time evidence is submitted to the laboratory.

Improperly sealed or packaged evidence or evidence submitted without a completed submission form is subject to return without analysis.

The following describes in greater detail the general requirements for submitting evidence to the laboratory. Other special instructions for specific evidence will be given in each service area. Please refer to these instructions before submitting any evidence.

Submission Forms and Incident Reports

The DOFS Evidence Submission Form requests the absolutely necessary information required each time evidence is submitted to the laboratory . A copy of the form is located on the DOFS web site. The following evidence kits/types and agency forms below do not need an additional DOFS Submission Form when submitted to the lab :

BA/Tox and Urine Only Kits – a unique form is included in kit
DNA Database Sample – a unique form is included in kit
Fulton County ME Form
Other forms approved in advance by DOFS management.

The box printed on the top left-hand corner of the DOFS Submission Form is the space for the submitting officer to record the date and time they submitted evidence to the lab using the auto-date stamper at each lab site. The submitting agency should take a copy of the Submission Form for their records. In addition, a copy of the officer’s incident report must be provided on all Biology and Trace cases. DOFS recommends that an incident report is submitted for all cases. To ensure the best laboratory service for each case type, it is important to supply information as to the significance of the evidence in relation to the crime. A lengthy narrative is not necessary but it must be informative because this is a source used by the scientist(s) to help make decisions regarding case priority and type or extent of testing. A duplicate investigative summary (or incident report) is not necessary for subsequent submission unless additional investigative information is available.

The Evidence Submission Form , an incident report and any other information must be attached to the outside of the sealed evidence package so that it may be referenced without breaking the seal on the evidence package. This also allows the analyst to receive the evidence in a sealed condition. Place an indication as to which laboratory section the evidence needs to be delivered (e.g. Attention: DI {for drugs}, etc.). For cases in which more than one section of the laboratory will be examining evidence, package the evidence separately for each section whenever possible. Specific packaging requirements are given later for individual services.

All evidence submitted for scientific analysis must have a service requested in writing on the DOFS Evidence Submission Form. Some evidence requires only one service (e.g. drug identification); however, other evidence may require more than one type of scientific investigation. It is important that all services required for a complete analysis be requested by the submitting agency to ensure that the evidence is submitted for the appropriate analyses. Coordination of these service requests by the laboratory is necessary to prevent damage or loss of evidentiary value. For example, it is important to carefully evaluate any stain with an apparent pattern, particularly a bloody fingerprint. In this instance, the information derived from the latent print service could have more significance than the potential serology result.

Note: For further information about proper labeling, packaging, and sealing, go to the Download this pdf file.information here.

Adequate labeling is essential not only for DOFS laboratory applications, but also vital for usage in court. All items of evidence must have both the first and last name of the victim/suspect and the agency case number or other unique identifying information on each outside packag e.

All paperwork attached to evidence should contain the following information :

Name (suspect and/or victim)
Brief description of contents of packaging
Location where collected
Date and time of collection
Investigator’s name, agency and agency case number
Doctor, medical examiner, or technician (when applicable)

The individual items enclosed in packages should bear the initials or personal mark of the officer for adequate identification and chain of custody according to their departmental policy. Packages should be maintained in a cool, dry location prior to submission to the DOFS laboratory. Any special storage requirements are described in the specific service areas.

In many instances, it is necessary to place each item in a separate container to prevent cross-contamination. Containers should be appropriately selected for each evidence type, adequately labeled, securely closed, and sealed. Outside blood alcohol/toxicology packaging is discarded after opening in the laboratory.

Sealing of the outer containers, along with the initials of the sealing officer, is mandatory. The seal must be tamper evident. Tamper evident tape or heat sealing are acceptable methods to seal a container. Self sealing evidence bags are also acceptable containers. The sealing officer must initial across the tape, heat seal, or self seal onto the package. In those instances where there is a designated area on the seal for the initials it is acceptable to use that area.

Biohazards:
All biohazards must be in a leak-proof container that will contain all contents and prevent leakage during handling, storage, and transport. All blood alcohol and toxicology cases must be submitted in an approved BA/TOX Kit. Biohazards that are mailed must be in leak-proof packaging with absorbent material. The primary container must be placed in an outer shipping container with secondary leak-proof materials. The biohazard warning symbol and label must be applied to the outside of the container. The packaging and marking requirements for biohazard evidence are based upon the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogen Standard, CFR Title 29, 1910.1030 and on Postal Regulations, Domestic Mail Manual 124.383.

Warning Labels:
Warning labels are required. Note any warning on the package. For example:

Warning: Biohazard
Warning: Hepatitis or HIV Positive
Warning: Glass
Warning: Sharp – objects such as knives must be packaged in boxes or other suitable containers which prevents loss or damage to the evidence as well as minimizes potential safety hazards to employees.

Firearms:
All firearms must be unloaded prior to mailing or submission to the lab. If the case warrants leaving the cartridges in the weapon then it must be hand delivered. The laboratory must be informed that a weapon is loaded. Under no circumstances will a loaded weapon be deposited into a DOFS lockbox. In addition, a sign must be affixed to the firearm packaging indicating “Loaded Weapon” prior to hand-delivery.

Hazardous Chemicals:
Flammable and other hazardous chemical materials must be delivered in person and should be packaged in leak proof containers.

Syringes:
Syringes may contain valuable evidence in some cases. Therefore on a case by case basis, in life-threatening situations, and with prior DOFS approval, syringe contents may be accepted by the laboratory for analysis.

Liquids for drug identification analysis: All liquids submitted for drug identification analysis shall be submitted in leak proof containers.  Liquids with a volume greater than 1 liter (1000 mL) shall be submitted in a screw top bucket as an outer container and an additional inner container (smaller plastic container, or if appropriate, plastic bags.)

Large submissions of solid samples for drug identification analysis:
All solid samples over 1 kilogram (~2 lbs) will be submitted with either a plastic container or box with reinforced seams as the outer container.    Containers should not weigh more than 25 lbs (~10-12 kilograms) and may not be larger than 15” x 15” x 15”.

Please Download this pdf file.click here for more detailed information regarding safety and drug submissions.

Evidence may be delivered in person between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Lockboxes at each lab site are to be used for submission of evidence. Prior arrangements must be made with the laboratory for evidence delivered at other times.

There are evidence depository boxes called Lockboxes in each of the DOFS Laboratories. These are secure evidence containers designed for the submission of evidence during business hours. To reduce delays in submission of evidence and delays in processing, please use the Lockboxes per directions at each laboratory location.

When mailing evidence, it is best to use certified or registered mail and return receipt. Evidence, with some exceptions, may be sent by common carrier to each laboratory. Commercial carriers have additional regulations and must be consulted regarding their individual requirements.

Note: The U.S.Post Office will not transport human remains or body parts.

Evidence will be only temporarily stored in the laboratory system until all services have been completed. By prior arrangement with each agency e vidence will either be returned via common carrier or picked-up by the next agency representative to submit evidence to the lab.

To expedite picking up evidence, please call ahead.