Standard Active Last Updated: Apr 19, 2023 Track Document
ASTM E3148-18(2023)

Standard Guide for Postmortem Facial Image Capture

Standard Guide for Postmortem Facial Image Capture E3148-18R23 ASTM|E3148-18R23|en-US Standard Guide for Postmortem Facial Image Capture Standard new BOS Vol. 14.02 Committee E30
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Significance and Use

5.1 The protocols that exist for photographing a decedent’s face at autopsy for identification purposes (for example, NAME Forensic Autopsy Performance Standards) do not always result in the capture of facial images that can be used for automated FR searches or manual facial comparisons. It is not always feasible to collect fingerprints from decedents (for example, in disaster situations or when a decedent is in a state of advanced decomposition), and radiograph (medical or dental) comparison requires at least a presumptive identification of remains so appropriate comparative antemortem radiographs can be obtained to confirm the identification. If the decedent’s DNA or appropriate family reference DNA profiles are not already stored within a DNA repository (for example, the FBI’s CODIS), a DNA association will also require the presumptive identification of a decedent to ensure that appropriate samples are collected for comparison/association.

5.2 It is advisable to follow the guidelines presented in this guide even when not all facial components are present as even incomplete facial images can assist automated FR and manual facial comparison processes, especially through more accurate recording of minute facial details.

5.3 For the purpose of facial image capture, there are various perimortem or postmortem conditions or both that can degrade the usability of any facial images captured:

5.3.1 Presence of trauma (for example, entry/exit wounds, lacerations, bruising, missing components, etc.),

5.3.2 Obscuring matter (for example, blood, fluids, dirt, debris, hair, clothing accessories, and so forth), and

5.3.3 Decomposition and other postmortem changes (for example, bloating, mummification, skeletonization, evidence of insect or scavenger activity, etc.).

5.4 Before any attempt is made to clean or alter the decedent for facial image capture, nationally accepted standards or agency protocols or both should be followed so the alterations do not affect forensic evidence collection, documentation, or chain of custody.


1.1 The purpose of this document is to provide guidelines for capturing postmortem facial images of human remains in controlled (for example, morgue) and semi-controlled (for example, field) settings to facilitate automated facial recognition (FR) searches or manual facial comparisons that could contribute to forensic investigations.

1.2 The values stated in SI units are to be regarded as standard. The values given in parentheses are mathematical conversions to inch-pound units that are provided for information only and are not considered standard.

1.3 This standard does not purport to address all of the safety concerns, if any, associated with its use. It is the responsibility of the user of this standard to establish appropriate safety, health, and environmental practices and determine the applicability of regulatory limitations prior to use.

1.4 This international standard was developed in accordance with internationally recognized principles on standardization established in the Decision on Principles for the Development of International Standards, Guides and Recommendations issued by the World Trade Organization Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Committee.

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Book of Standards Volume: 14.02
Developed by Subcommittee: E30.12
Pages: 7
DOI: 10.1520/E3148-18R23
ICS Code: 11.100.01; 37.040.01