The Forensic Photodocumentation RAW File And Its Role In Court

One important feature that the SDFI Forensic Camera Systems offer is the ability to capture photographic evidence and to save it in two different file formats.

The first format captured is a RAW file. Each time the SDFI Camera System’s shutter button is pressed, the System first saves encoded RAW data in a RAW file, and then the System reads the RAW data and produces a .JPG file format. The .JPG or .JPEG comes from The Joint Photographic Experts Group. A .JPG file format is a digital photo format where image pixels are highly compressed to save computer storage space. .JPGs are admissible in court, unless challenged.

That’s where the RAW file format is needed. The RAW file is the original where the .JPG is a highly compressed file extraction. The .JPG represents the original but its implications are more important.

RAW files contain encoded data (not comprised of pixels) and their file size is considerably bigger. The SDFI Image Management System allows you to effortlessly view both types of files.

Remember old-fashioned cameras? When you went and picked up your pictures, you also received a strip of negatives that accompanied your pictures. The RAW file is the equivalent of a negative. RAW files preserve all of the original data from the imaging sensor of the camera, much like a negative, thus providing an unaltered original. RAW files themselves cannot be altered, which prevents not only inadvertent image manipulation but it also prevents intentional manipulation of forensic evidence.

If you should have to go to court, and your .jpg forensic images are challenged, producing a RAW file proves beyond reasonable doubt that your forensic photo is really the original unaltered capture of the area of interest.

For those of you who capture forensic images, it is important to know and follow the rules defined within your state's Rules of Evidence or The Federal Rules of Evidence Following these rules, while ensuring a forensic Chain of Custody, reduces or eliminates a defensible legal challenge related to the authenticity of the original forensic images captured.

Slowly but surely, judges are realizing that it is indeed RAW files that are the original file format and not the .jpg.

SDFI-TeleMedicine’s Forensic Camera Systems are built around The Federal Rules of Evidence in every way, from capturing court-ready forensic images and video to securely storing and sending forensic evidence through protected nested, 256-bit AES, end to end encryption, chain of custody paths.

SDFI’s Forensic Image Management System complies one-hundred percent with the National Children’s Alliance's “2017 Accreditation Standards of Storing and Releasing Photo Documentation”.

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