Last week I warned you against the dangers of passive voice (“The suspect was patted down”). Today I’m going to give you a professional tip. There’s one situation when passive voice is useful: when something happened – and you don’t know who did it.
The crime scene was compromised. PASSIVE VOICE (effective: You don’t know who compromised it)
The house was entered through the unlocked back door. PASSIVE VOICE (effective: You don’t know who entered)
Bottom line: When you know who did what, use active voice. Or – to restate the handy rule I gave you last week – start every sentence in your reports with a person, place, or thing UNLESS you don’t know who did the action.
Criminal Justice Report Writing by Jean Reynolds is available from Amazon.com for the low price of $17.95. For a free preview, click on the link or the picture below.
“It will definitely help you with your writing skills.” – Joseph E. Badger, California Association of Accident Reconstructionists Newsletter
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