1. #1

    Question How long is evidence kept in a crime?

    Hubby was out mowing the yard tonight and I actually got to sit down and hold his beloved remote control. What a powerful feeling.

    But I digress. I was flipping channels and came across Forensic Files on Court TV. There was a segment on about a crime that happened in 1962. A man was convicted of murder, kept fighting it, blah, blah, blah, some 20 years later was retried. The car the man drove the night of the crime was still being held as evidence and because of paint chips found in his car and also at the scene, he was convicted once again.

    This brings me to my question. When there's a crime, how long is evidence kept? Are huge items like cars, boats, etc. held for an undetermined amount of time, and if so, how do they make room for all of it?

  2. #2


    With my dept. it depends on the circumstances of the crime. If it is something serious or un solved, we can hold as long as we want. In fact, only way I've heard of it getting released is by court order.

  3. #3


    Okay, thanks!

  4. #4
    Leigh Harrington


    Not sure about evidence but paper work is kept 6 years to allow for civil proceedings. Video evidence given by child victims is kept till they are 18 plus six years for the civil proceedings option.

  5. #5


    We retain physical evidence as follows:

    Homicides: Evidence kept forever or until everybody involved is long dead.

    Other crimes: Kept until statute of limitations (1 year misdemeanors, 3 years most felonies) is passed if no prosecution. If there is prosecution the evidence is kept until the case is adjuticated. 30 days after adjutication if there is no notice of appeal then we get rid of it.

  6. #6


    Prior to conviction, as posted above, evidence should be kept indefinately, or until such time as it is no longer able to be prosecuted.

    After conviction, evidence is kept until all possiblility of appeals have been exhausted.

    This means that in capital crimes, the evidence presented at trial is kept until the death of the defendant. In less-than-capital felony crimes it may be until the defendant's release from custody and/or court supervision.

    and yes.. clearing out old evidence is a HUGE PITA. Evidence and Property Custodian was one "additional duty" title that I was all too happy to relinquish.

  7. #7
    Sgt Lobster


    Evidence relating to unsolved murders pretty much indefinately. We have recently started DNA profiling for a 1985 murder case, to be honest these types of cases are never closed.

    I think the same would also go for other serious classes of crime such as rape.

    In most cases the exhibits get returned or otherwise disposed of once court proceedings have concluded any any appeals period has passed.

    As a general rule we avoid taking exhibits into police possession if we can avoid it.


  8. #8

    Thumbs up

    Thanks, everyone! I figured there had to be some sort of time limit, but I wasn't sure what it was. Thanks for answering!

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