What Are Forensic Transcription Services?

Forensic transcription has become a must-have component of modern investigation as crime and technology advances. Because of that, law enforcement utilizes services like forensic transcription to retain evidence or follow up on leads more efficiently.

In this article, you’ll learn how:

  • Forensic transcription involves transcribing audio for evidence in court cases, significantly contributing to decisions on legal matters. The process is essential for making sense of recordings, especially those with challenging audio quality.
  • The challenges in transcribing evidence include making sense of taped recordings, accurately capturing information, and redacting audio and video. Accurate transcripts are indispensable, ensuring evidence provides clear facts to judges and juries and avoiding confusion.
  • Inaccuracies in transcripts can have severe consequences and impact the justice system. Automated transcription services, with an accuracy rate of, at best, 86%, may lead to twisted words, evidence nullification, and expensive trial do-overs.

What Is Forensic Transcription?

Forensic transcription means transcribing audio to be used as evidence in court cases. The transcripts can be vital in helping decide who wins a lawsuit as well. Forensic evidence includes phones, laptops, surveillance camera footage, and more.

The work involves transcribing audio or video that’s hard to make out and turning it into clear transcripts that people can understand. Some files may be good quality; others might have poor audio or video.

A tape from a hidden spy camera is a good example. That kind of surveillance footage often gets used as evidence in court. Yet, having the tape doesn’t help much—they need transcripts they can read and understand to get something useful from it, and that’s where forensic transcription comes into play. 

Forensic Transcription Workflow

Ditto has a 3 step process in our forensic transcription workflow:

Workflow StepDescription
Enhancing AudioCleaning up audio using software and filters to remove background noise, making voices clearer.
TranscriptionTranscribing audio or video word-for-word, including “umms,” “uhhs,” and pauses, by specialized legal transcribers.
Quality AssuranceDouble and triple-check transcripts for accuracy through tight quality control before finalization.

1. Enhancing Audio

Background noise can make transcribing more difficult. The first step is cleaning up the audio without altering it—make it more transparent without changing what was said. At Ditto, we use software and filters to remove unwanted sounds like buzzing AC units or traffic noise and make the voices louder. 

Doing so makes it easier to determine what people were saying on the tape, and you need to know exactly what happened based on the recording. The more precise the audio, the easier it is to figure out the facts.

2. Actual Transcription

The next part is transcribing everything. Verbatim transcription companies have specialized transcribers who can turn recordings into text accurately and fast. They transcribe it word-for-word—every “ummm”, “uhhh”, and pause gets written. And that includes anything important, like facts, dates, and quotes, is just how they’re said. 

If a part of the audio is difficult to hear and the transcriber can’t make it out, we mark it “indecipherable.” However, don’t worry—at Ditto, we’re no strangers to poor audio quality, so we know the drill – and what to do.

3. Quality Assurance

Before the transcripts go out, they must double and triple-check them to ensure everything runs smoothly. We aim to get the transcripts over 99% accurate compared to the original audio.

Good transcription companies have tight quality control to catch errors—listening to the recordings while reading the transcript. 

Getting near perfect is vital because legal evidence can make or break a case. Even one wrong word could change the meaning of an entire statement.

Features We Include On Our Transcripts

There’s more to transcription than writing down what was said on tape.

Preparing expert testimony for transcription means creating clear written records of what expert witnesses say in legal cases. So, it’s vital to present complex forensic findings accurately, establishing the reliability of evidence and the credibility of experts in court.

Here are some features you’ll find on Ditto’s transcripts:

Verbatim Transcription

Verbatim transcription includes everything someone says word-for-word, including all the uhs, umms, and false starts. It’s essential for forensic transcripts because they give the complete, unabridged record of what was said for investigation and analysis.

Time-stamps

Time-stamped transcription types up audio or video and writes down the exact time when each word was said. It’s extremely helpful in forensics as it lets you recreate timelines and see critical details and when they happened.

Audio Enhancement

Forensic audio recording enhancement in transcription means improving the quality of a recording to make the audio clearer, fuller, or more balanced for comprehension. This can involve different tools and techniques depending on what you’re going for. It’s important in legal cases because it makes recorded sounds easier to understand, helping investigators analyze audio evidence.

Speaker Identification

Speaker identification means figuring out who is talking in a recording by comparing the voice to known voice samples. This is useful for forensic transcription because it lets you pinpoint who said what, helping investigators confirm speakers’ identities as evidence.

The Challenges of Transcribing Evidence

Obtaining a high-quality transcript to use in court can be very important in a future case. However, it isn’t easy—the work has some serious challenges. Let’s break down what most transcription professionals struggle with.

Helping Make Sense of Taped Evidence

Recordings get used as evidence in many legal cases—criminal charges, medical lawsuits, insurance claims, and product safety issues. Clear transcripts of what expert witnesses say are needed so the court and anyone outside the courtroom can appropriately review the case facts.

Precisely Capturing Information

When analyzing forensic recordings, the two main challenges are figuring out what people are saying and who’s talking if there are multiple voices. That evidence can only be helpful if you can tell what they say or who said what. 

That’s why accurate transcripts are must-haves; they sort out exactly what words were uttered and put names to the voices. That clarity helps ensure the evidence gives straight facts to the judges and juries instead of confusing them or leading them to the wrong conclusions.

Foreign Language Transcription and Translation

Sometimes, there are recordings in foreign languages used as criminal evidence. Audio or video of non-English speakers, when transcribed word-for-word by an expert translator, can keep the original meaning while transforming it into English for court. 

Our skilled translators, who are experts in both languages, can capture the tone, meaning, and everything said—not just the basic words – but the nuance as well. That matters for showing intent when it becomes evidence.

Why Police Departments Need Help From Professional Transcription Companies

A study from 2018 showed paperwork is a pain for officers. Respondents said over half their shift gets taken up by transcribing—so there isn’t much time left to protect and serve. 

In the study, over 75% of police respondents say they write reports and notes by hand before typing them out, even though that’s inefficient and risks creating errors. Half create incident reports the old-fashioned way before going digital second, doubling the work for no reason. 

The bottom line is that paperwork drags officers from critical duties, and digital solutions like sending recordings to professional transcribers could unburden law enforcement.

Consequences of Inaccurate Transcription in the Legal Field

Not all transcripts are made equal. When there are mistakes, things can go south really quickly for the justice system, especially here in the United States. That’s why law enforcement agencies don’t rely on AI-produced transcripts. Automated transcription solutions only reach about 86% accuracy, making them inappropriate for forensic transcription. 

These are just some of the worst consequences of inaccurate transcripts: 

  • Legal Misinterpretation
  • Mistrial or Appeal
  • Erroneous Convictions or Acquittals
  • Damage to Credibility
  • Admissibility Issues
  • Increased Legal Costs
  • Impact on Investigations
  • Victim and Witness Impact
  • Public Confidence Erosion
  • Resource Wastage

Why Choose Ditto For Forensic Transcription

We know what law enforcement and legal professionals need for forensic transcription. Here are just some of the benefits you get when you work with Ditto:

Benefits Ditto TranscriptsAI Transcription CompaniesOffshore Companies
CJIS CompliantYesNoNo
Certified TranscriptsYesNoNo
US-basedYesMaybeNo
US WorkersYesNoNo
Passed Criminal Background Check YesNoNo

Ditto Is Your Best Option For Forensic Transcription

Looking for accurate forensic transcription? Ditto has you covered. Our services include CJIS-compliant security, fast turnaround times, flexible costs, and high-quality customer service. 

Ditto Transcripts is a Denver, Colorado-based, CJIS-compliant transcription services company that provides fast, accurate, and affordable transcripts for individuals and companies of all sizes. Call (720) 287-3710 today for a free quote, and ask about our free five-day trial.

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