How Is a Crime Reconstituted?
The suspect accused of committing the crime must be there in person, guiding the experts and explaining how everything happened
The simulated reproduction of facts, popularly known as reconstitution of crimes, is the process of simulating the circumstances and the environment in which some transgression was practiced through evidence and testimony. From a technical point of view, the term “reconstitute” is incorrect, since the practice seeks only to document, not redo, the criminal act. In practice, it is used to verify and determine the mechanics and modus operandi of the criminal, as well as to clarify aspects of the crime, to identify possible aggravating or even premeditation. The reconstitution is foreseen in art. 7 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, but provided that the simulation of the facts does not conflict with the public order or the morality of the accused.
1. The simulated reproduction of the facts is more common in the calculation of traffic accidents, murder and property crimes. It is never done if it offends morality and public order or brings risks to society. The degree of complexity of the case is what defines whether reconstitution will be necessary. In addition, in order to maintain the fidelity of the process, the presence of the perpetrator (s) of the crime as well as the witnesses
2. The police authority, usually a delegate, has the power to request and carry out the reproduction if it concludes that the act can clarify the facts of the crime, without the need for judicial authorization. It can also be requested by a judge to assist in the analysis of the case, and also by the representative of the accused, if it is essential for the complaint
3. Legislation omits responsibility for the simulation, but usually it is the responsibility of the official experts and the team that participated in the initiation of the investigation, together with the delegate who requested it. As it usually seeks to clarify complex cases, the team needs to resolve positioning, distance, and obstacles related to crime, as well as identify the role of suspects in the event of other individuals involved in the crime
4. The simulation is performed in the same place where the crime occurred, in order to determine distances, duration and time to practice it. There are factors that are crucial in reproduction: time of crime, replicas of used weapons, clothing of similar types and colors, vehicles of marks, similar models and colors, and even sounds heard at the time of transgression. Extreme climatic conditions, such as torrential rains and high winds, are difficult to simulate and can influence the analysis of truth
5. The accused or defendant, for the right not to self-incriminate, may refuse to participate in the simulation without characterizing contempt of authority – however, it is his chance to confirm and validate his version of the facts. If it agrees, the authorities are responsible for their protection, as well as for the surveillance of the site, driving curious people and the press. They also inhibit attempted escape or rescue of the accused
6. The participation of the victim (s) and witness (s) is important in order to construct an external view of the facts, and can confirm or displace theories formulated by the experts involved. They have the legal right to refuse to participate without any reprisals, after all they may fear for their own safety or not want to relive the event. If they are shaken, their participation may even disrupt the simulation
7. From the versions of the defendant and the witnesses, who are accompanied by lawyers or representatives of the Public Prosecutor’s Office, the experts and technicians conduct the simulation from the outset. It is common for the authority to direct questions to the accused to elucidate doubts about the dynamics of the facts, with care not to press the accused to state something against his will or to divert his statement
8. The staging of the crime can last from three to five hours, and even days, depending on the modus operandi used, distances covered by the defendant, or if it is necessary to extend the simulation to more than one place. If a reproduction does not solve specific doubts or raise new questions for the investigation, a new, more objective simulation can be requested by the delegate, prosecutor or judge of the process
9. All simulated reproduction is documented by the investigative team through photographs and filming. As these are evidence acquired by expertise, photos and videos of the simulation have great value for the investigation, helping to trace the dynamics used by the offender at the time of the crime. With the elements in hand, it is the delegate himself who decides what will be used in the defendant’s case
10. The chosen evidence, duly numbered and described, is used as a document in the expert’s report, which is gathered in the police investigation or criminal action. Even with wide acceptance, there are processualists who question the value of simulated reproduction, stating that it is only a method of solving doubts, not being able to generate new evidence or autonomous elements in the police investigation