AN EMPIRICAL TEST OF THE ASSUMPTIONS OF CASE LINKAGE AND OFFENDER PROFILING WITH SERIAL COMMERCIAL ROBBERIES

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Abstract

Case linkage, the identification of crimes suspected of being committed by the same perpetrator on the basis of behavioral similarity, and offender profiling, the inference of offender characteristics from offense behaviors, are used to advise police investigations and, in relation to case linkage, have been admitted in legal proceedings. Criteria for expert evidence, such as the Daubert criteria (Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, 1993), place stringent conditions on the admissibility of expert evidence. The future contribution of these practices to legal proceedings depends, in part, on whether they are underpinned by hypotheses that are testable and supported. The 3 hypotheses of offender behavioral consistency, of offender behavioral distinctiveness, and of a homology (direct relationship) between offender characteristics and behavior were empirically examined using a sample of serial commercial robberies. Support was found for the former 2 hypotheses but not for the last. The findings of the 2 studies have implications for the future development of these practices, for legal practitioners evaluating expert evidence, and for the implementation of public policy.

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