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article / May 3, 2023

How do digital evidence management systems work?

Learn how digital evidence management solutions help legal teams speed up evidence review

Modern legal teams manage an overwhelming amount of digital evidence. If the discovery process has left you and your clerks spending hours sifting through blurry cell phone video footage or manually typing out transcripts, it’s past time you considered a digital evidence management system (DEMS). With a comprehensive DEMS, the administrative burden of managing different files in different formats is less tedious and time-consuming, allowing you to spend more time seeking justice.

Here’s an overview of how digital evidence management systems work. 

What is a digital evidence management system?

A digital evidence management system (DEMS) is a software solution that allows legal teams to manage all digital evidence in one secure central hub. That means no more searching for bits and pieces of documentation through various cloud services, computer folders, DVDs and boxes of hard drives.

A DEMS should be able to store information from a wide variety of sources, including:

  • Video footage from security and traffic cameras, smartphones or body-worn cameras

  • Audio recordings

  • Photos of physical evidence and any other relevant images 

  • Documents in varying formats 

Ideally, your DEMS should integrate with other systems your department already has in use. For example, Axon’s digital evidence management system for lawyers and attorneys, Axon Justice, integrates seamlessly with Axon Evidence, a DEMS for law enforcement. This footage can then be shared with the prosecution, making collaboration between law enforcement and your legal team easier. Axon Justice also offers auto-transcription, disclosure and sharing capabilities, as well as comprehensive audit trail features, which allows for seamless integration into all aspects of the evidence management process.

Benefits of digital evidence management systems

Organizing digital evidence for easy access

Once a piece of evidence is uploaded, the digital evidence management system will capture all its relevant metadata. From there you can tag, organize and otherwise manage storage and sharing permissions. Taking a few minutes to set up correct tags will save your team hours later on, so it’s well worth the initial effort. The DEMS should also allow you to build out digital case files so that all the pertaining evidence can stay together, classified by format or source. Ideally, this includes interview transcripts, so features like Axon Justice’s auto-transcription service also  speed up evidence reviews. 

Securing digital evidence

A DEMS should allow your administrators to set user permissions, limiting access to certain files. Some digital management solutions, like Axon Justice, come with audit trails that allow you to view a chain of custody for each piece of evidence. You should be able to track when a file was uploaded, updated, shared or deleted. Authorized users should also have the ability to set retention periods for evidence and manage archiving procedures. 

If some of the video footage you receive did not redact sensitive information, such as faces of bystanders or license plates, you may need to do so before filing the evidence as a privacy measure. Some DEMS platforms, such as Axon Justice, offer auto-redaction features, which can help you mask or blur sensitive information with a few clicks.

How will a digital evidence management system help my team be more efficient?

Depending on the complexity of the case, digital evidence could comprise hundreds of gigabytes or even several terabytes of data, making the discovery phase an incredibly cumbersome process for legal teams. Luckily, a powerful digital evidence management solution with robust features and unlimited storage can ease the administrative burden of sifting through hours of footage, transcriptions, photos and social posts. By organizing all of your evidence in one place, your team can verify details and discrepancies with a few clicks. 

Using a DEMS also allows you to secure and restrict access to — as well as share — documents with other parties. This can be especially important for small legal teams with high caseloads. It’s easy to get buried in paperwork when there aren’t enough hands on deck, and a DEMS can help short-staffed teams win back meaningful time building a case and preparing for court.

Retrieving evidence from your local law enforcement agency via case sharing can also save incredible time. When they share their case folder via Axon Evidence, you receive everything in the case folder via the cloud. No need to wait for them to copy evidence onto external drives or DVDs and then drive them over so you can upload - you can send and receive via the secure cloud!

Spend more time on cases and less time on paperwork

Digital evidence management systems work as an extension of your team, taking on the tedious document management tasks, so you can focus on your clients. 

Our DEMS for legal teams, Axon Justice, empowers prosecutors and defense attorneys to focus on pursuing justice rather than tedious administrative workflows with a digital evidence management system built specifically to streamline the discovery process. Ready to modernize your evidence management process? Send us a note