Proof in most ORC cases usually proceed through three basic stages. First, the ORC investigator assembles the circumstantial case through documents, interviews, and video (where appropriate). Then the investigator uses circumstantial evidence to persuade witnesses or informants to provide direct evidence against the defendant. The defendant is then interviewed to obtain a statement of admission for the crimes identified during the proof stages.
Stage 1: Assembling Circumstantial Evidence
Circumstantial evidence is presented to help draw inferences in a criminal case about how events tie together. It’s also labeled as indirect evidence. Both sides in a trial will search out this type of evidence in order to support the claim they are presenting. Convictions can be obtained by using circumstantial evidence; however, this type of evidence needs to be corroborated in order to obtain a conviction.
For example, circumstantial evidence can come from a witness who observed a person with a with a booster (concealment) bag possibly steal an entire shelf of Advil. Not having seen the act committed, the witness’ testimony becomes circumstantial evidence. The witness can describe what they observed, such as the booster bag full of Advil. Other facts would be needed to corroborate the witness account and alleged criminal act in order for the accused to be found guilty.
Circumstantial evidence is suggestive evidence that helps build the main point. Whether or not circumstantial evidence is believed will have a large influence on the verdict, especially in cases with little direct evidence. The presentation of circumstantial evidence in jury cases, where the prosecution typically has to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, is critical.
Stage 2: Acquiring Direct Evidence
Direct evidence is a more straight-forward support of the argument being made. This type of evidence does not ask the jury to develop opinions based on circumstance. Its purpose is to provide evidence that shows proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
For example, entering a booster (concealment bag) with fingerprints on it as evidence is considered direct evidence. This places a booster (concealment) bag into someone’s hand as fact. Video, audio, DNA and even certain types of witness testimony can all be used as direct evidence.
The weight witness testimony may carry varies on the background of a witness. The opinion of a forensics expert will likely be taken with a stronger understanding than the testimony of a convict.
Stage 3: Obtaining Admission Statements
The best way to close an investigation is through a written admission statement from the defendant. Obtaining an admission followed by a written statement is a proven way to secure the case and help to identify any missing elements in the case.
To effectively prepare the ORC investigator to understand and respond to the complex nature of ORC investigations, the rest of the manual is divided into four sections: ORC Schemes, Investigations, Criminology, and Ethics.