PERSONAL IDENTIFICATION BY APPEARANCE (FACIAL EXAMINATION)

General provisions

Forensic facial examination belongs to the type of forensic examination and is carried out in order to identify a person on the basis of appearance, which are recorded in images (photographs and/or videos).

The subject of facial examination is factual data that are important for pre-trial investigation or court proceedings and relate to the laws of physiological structure of human appearance, its changes during life and after death.

Object of facial examination

The main object of facial examination is the appearance of a person, his/her properties, system of elements and signs.

This examination also studies:

  • patterns of fixation of appearance on various images;
  • knowledge of the general patterns of collection, study and use of data on human appearance through the use of appropriate methods and tools;
  • restoration of intravital appearance of human bone remains.

Descriptions, verbal portraits, sculptural or graphic reconstructions of the face on the skull, painted portraits, composite (synthetic) portraits (photographs) and other objects, the creation of which was influenced by the subjective perception and reflection of information in it is made.

Tasks of facial examination

The main tasks of facial examination are:

  • establishing the presence or absence of identity of persons reflected in photographic images or other objective reflections of human appearance.
  • when conducting comprehensive medical and portrait research – the restoration of the intravital appearance of man from bone remains.

Questions to be addressed during the facial examination

  • Is the same person depicted in the submitted photos (if there are several people in the photo, the person in respect of whom the study is to be indicated is indicated?);
  • Is the same person depicted in the submitted videos?
  • Does the video show the person whose photo (video) is provided (presented) for comparison?
  • Does the photo show an unidentified corpse and the person in the photo presented for comparison?

Features of the purpose of facial examination

Facial examination is appointed in situations when the bodies of pre-trial investigation or the court do not have the opportunity to otherwise identify the person depicted in photographs and/or videos.

In order to conduct a facial examination in order to identify a person on the basis of appearance, the expert must provide:

  • video or photo image on which the image of the person being installed is recorded;
  • video or photo image on which comparative samples of the image of the person being compared with the person being installed are recorded;

In the event that more than one person is recorded in a photograph or video, the customer of the examination must clearly indicate the image of which person among all available, is subject to examination.

In addition, the following recommendations should be followed when taking comparative samples:

  • images of the person’s appearance that match or are close to the subjects in terms of shooting and the age of the recorded person are taken as samples;
  • images with samples of appearance must be of the highest quality, clear, not subject to editing, have sufficient image resolution, appropriate lighting, minimum distance of the person from the point of shooting.

To make photo portraits of unidentified corpses, it is necessary to pre-make facial cosmetics, remove all layers of dirt, and make a hairstyle so that the hairline can be seen in the photo or video, and so on. The face of the corpse is photographed from different angles. If scars, moles and other special features are found on the face of the corpse, it must be recorded in the examination report of the corpse, and a copy of the inspection report must be provided to the expert for review.

During the identification of a person by the photos printed in print editions, it is necessary to find out whether the originals of the
photographs have been preserved in the editorial office of the respective edition or in other places, and to provide it for expert examination. This is due to the fact that when printing photos, some small details of the face may not be transmitted or, conversely, there are printing “mottles” (printing defects), which can be perceived as special features, as well as retouching of relevant images.

When examining photographs of unidentified corpses in which the soft tissues of the face have been destroyed, X-rays of the skull or the skull itself may be provided. In such cases, a complex portrait and forensic examination is appointed, during which the analysis and comparison of facial features based on photographs is combined with the study of other objects (skull, X-ray, etc.).