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Medico-Legal Death Investigation Systems – Brazil


Lidiane A. P. Santana ,

Scientific Police of Goiás, Goiânia, BR
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Rafael Venson

University of Glasgow, GB
About Rafael
School of Medicine, Dentistry and Nursing
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Investigation of death differs between countries and whether deaths are natural or unnatural. This article aims to describe the investigation of both natural and unnatural deaths in Brazil, a federation formed by 26 States plus the Federal District. Although the Brazilian States are self-governing, death investigation follows some standardised processes throughout the country. Some deaths require little to no investigation, such as natural deaths that occur under the supervision of a medical doctor; in these cases, the body can be released directly to the funeral services. Other deaths are investigated more thoroughly, such as suspicious deaths with non-identified body. Such cases usually involve more parties, such as the Military Police, the Judicial Police, Forensic Experts, Prosecutors, and a Judge. Reports from Forensic Experts, such as Forensic Pathologists, Forensic Toxicologists, and Crime Scene Investigators, are compiled together with other documents within the inquiry process and are critical to the success of the investigation. The Forensic Experts normally work in the Medico-Legal Institutes or in the Criminalistics Institutes and they may or may not be part of the Judicial Police force, depending on the State; in some States, they are part of another institution called Scientific Police. A crucial step in the process of death investigation is the chain of custody, which has evolved greatly in Brazil in the past few years. However, the investigation process may still take years to be completed due to the lack of resources and investment in the involved parties, especially the Polices forces.
How to Cite: Santana, L.A.P. and Venson, R., 2022. Medico-Legal Death Investigation Systems – Brazil. Sri Lanka Journal of Forensic Medicine, Science & Law, 13, pp.11–14. DOI:
Published on 30 Sep 2022.
Peer Reviewed


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