XI. X. Photographs

Effective 10/1/80

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XI. X. Photographs

Effective 10/1/80

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A photograph when properly identified and safeguarded, provides graphic documentation that can be very useful as evidence by itself, and/or to assist a person in refreshing his memory.



Title 22 MRSA §4011 requires that:

1.When a report is made by a staff member of a law enforcement agency or a hospital, he shall make reasonable efforts to take, or cause to be taken, color photographs of any areas of visible trauma on a child.


2.Photographs shall be made available to the Department as soon as possible.  The Department shall pay the reasonable costs of the photographs.


3.The person shall notify the Department as soon as possible if he is unable to take, or cause to be taken, these photographs.


4.Designated agents of the Department may take photographs of any subject matter when necessary and relevant to an investigation of a report of suspected abuse or neglect, or to subsequent child protection proceedings.


5.The taking of photographs shall be done in a manner consistent with professional standards, including minimizing trauma.  [This does not mean by a professional photographer, but rather in a professional manner.]


6.The parent’s or custodian’s consent to the taking of photographs shall not be required.



1.Since the purpose of taking photographs or x-rays is to document evidence, usually a few photographs or x-rays are sufficient unless the damage to the child’s body has been extensive.  Usually Polaroid or instamatic cameras are sufficient for taking photographs.


2.Photographs by law enforcement and medical staff:
a.When the reporter is a staff member of a law enforcement agency or a hospital, the intake worker will remind the reporter:
(1)That he is obliged under the reporting statute to make reasonable efforts to take or cause to be taken, photographs of visible trauma on the child.
(2)Parental consent is not required.
(3)Care is to be taken to minimize trauma.
b.Forcible entry cannot be used to gain access to photograph a child or the premises.
c.Law enforcement officials, with a warrant, may gain access to the premises and
(1)Take photographs of the child, with or without consent of the parent or child, related to suspected abuse or neglect.
(2)Take photographs of the premises with or without consent of the parent, child, or occupant responsible for the premises, relevant to investigation of a probable crime.  (See subsection Y, Law Enforcement.)
d.Hospital/medical staff photographs or x-rays may be taken without parental consent if related to suspected abuse or neglect.
e.Hospital/medical photographs related solely to medical diagnosis or medical treatment may be taken, but only with consent of the parent, or custodian (e.g., the Department if the child is in the custody of the Department) unless done under short term emergency services (see Short Term Emergency Services, Section IV, subsection H), a medical treatment order (Title 22, §4071), or some other authorization.


3.Photographs by departmental staff:
a.Child welfare workers, with approval by the supervisor, at any point during investigation, treatment, or case management services should take photographs if they would be useful as evidence:
(1)In determining whether a child is or has been abused or neglected.
(2)At a subsequent child protector proceeding (i.e.., request for preliminary order, petition for child protection, review or termination of parental rights).
b.Photographs may be taken to document not only possible jeapardous circumstances, but also improved or normal circumstances.
c.Although statute authorizes departmental staff to take photographs, department staff are not required to take photographs and must gather sufficient facts to determine whether taking of photographs is necessary to document evidence.
d.If the parent or custodian of the child or occupant of the premises object to the taking of photographs, the worker shall inform him that the photographing is authorized by law.  If the parent or custodian or occupant attempts to prevent the taking of photographs or otherwise threatens the worker, law enforcement should be contacted for assistance or for referral (see subsection Y, Law Enforcement), not for purposes of photographing alone.
e.Care will be taken to minimize trauma, by, for example:
(1)Taking photographs for other persons, even though these photographs would not be relevant to the investigation.  Such photos could only be made with consent of parent or custodian and would be discarded so as not to become part of our record.
(2)Requesting assistance from other persons who could allay anxiety of the child, custodian, or occupant.
(3)Arranging for photographs to be taken by law enforcement or medical staff (e.g., under law enforcement 6 hour interim care).
f.Forcible entry may not be used to gain access to the child or premises.  If the worker has reason to believe a child is in immediate risk of serious harm contact law enforcement regarding a warrant to gain access (see subsection Y, Law Enforcement).


4.Reimbursement will be made upon request by law enforcement or hospital officials for the costs of film, processing, and/or reprints when the photographs are taken for child protection purposes, not for criminal prosecution nor medical purposes.  If the photographs are to be used for both purposes, costs can be apportioned.  The provider’s bill must clearly identify the full costs for which he is seeking payment and amounts being charged to each reimbursement source.  Billing for medical purposes will be on Title XIX forms; billing for reporting purposes will be on usual hospital billing forms (see subsection W, Legal Billing).


5.See Addendum A for letter to hospitals regarding taking of photographs and billing.