Date of Submission: Items of physical evidence submitted to the MSP forensic science laboratories are assigned a date of receipt. In the absence of any substantive information regarding the nature or urgency of the case, the evidence will be processed in the approximate order in which it was received.
Public Safety Urgency: Cases involving a violent or potentially violent suspect who has not yet been brought into police custody are given highest priority and are processed almost immediately. Even during times of high backlogs and long average turnaround times, cases with public safety urgency are worked quickly and with maximum collaboration from the investigating agency.
Adjudicative Urgency: The vast majority of criminal cases in the United States (approximately 95% according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics) end in a plea agreement and, therefore, never go to trial. But in instances when a court proceeding requires forensic testing, evidence will be prioritized for the purpose of meeting the court's deadlines.
Crime Prevention Strategies: At times, the MSP forensic science laboratories will engage in special programs that are intended to support the crime prevention efforts of police and other public officials. Typically, cases that come into the crime laboratory already have victims, all of which represent tragedies to communities all across the State of Michigan. Forensic science, through DNA, fingerprint, and firearm databases, frequently solve crimes and identify offenders that could not have been achieved by traditional policing methods. Forensic science can prevent crime, which requires special strategies to ensure that certain cases are processed in a timely manner.
Public Interest Cases: Some cases received by crime laboratories are of special interest to local communities for a variety of reasons. Sometimes this involves crimes perpetrated against public officials or their families, or it may involve a particularly egregious offense that significantly violates the local customs and standards of the community. By listening to investigators and learning about the seriousness of the case as perceived by the members of the community, the MSP forensic science laboratories may opt to examine the evidence more quickly than usual.
Serving in Good Faith for Michigan Communities: The determination of what cases are prioritized is entirely a matter of subjective consideration exercised solely for the purpose of keeping Michigan citizens as safe as possible. Even our primary customers, police and prosecutors, exercise discretion in how they investigate and disposition criminal cases. Admittedly, it is not uncommon for disagreements to arise as a result of competing interests. Every victim's case, every community's crime, and every prosecutor's trial is the most important to them. The great challenge and reward of working in a forensic science laboratory is making the right decisions in the right way so that public resources invested in forensic science deliver the maximum possible return. There is no special formula for prioritizing criminal cases. It simply requires smart, thoughtful professionals who are committed to the health and safety of the public. That is what criminal justice is all about.