Understanding chain of custody when it comes to legal evidence

| Oct 30, 2018 | Firm News |

Those accused of a criminal offense often find themselves thrust into a strange and hostile world full of confusing, arbitrary rules and terrifying stories from others who have faced similar charges. It is easy to feel overwhelmed when facing the criminal justice system, but anyone accused of a crime has the right to a defense.

Your best option in most cases will be to explore the case against you and start to build a defense strategy that can minimize the impact of the charges on your life. Such strategies can include an affirmative defense, such as acting in self-defense. Other strategies could involve invoking the protection offered by the statute of limitations.

One common strategy that can prove successful in some cases is a challenge to the evidence presented by the prosecution. Even if the evidence seemingly proves that you committed a crime, it may be possible to contest that evidence if there is any sort of issue with the chain of custody for it.

What is chain of custody?

Chain of custody rules are there to protect the people accused of crimes. They prevent overt falsification of evidence, as well as the potential for contamination that could lead to a wrongful conviction. Chain of custody basically means there must be documentation for every movement a piece of evidence undergoes while in possession of law enforcement.

From the second law enforcement collects a piece of evidence, it must be carefully bagged and handled only by professionals. Every person who interacts with it must record when they touch it, how they handle it and what they do with the evidence. This helps show where fingerprints, chemical residue and DNA on a piece of evidence comes from. If there is an issue with chain of custody, there is the potential for contamination to impact the accuracy of the test results.

Chain of custody issues could also mean that a piece of evidence was switched with something else, resulting in a more incriminating scenario for you, the defendant. Reviewing the chain of custody on evidence is an important step in building a defense strategy. If there is any indication of issues with the chain of custody, it may be possible to have the courts throw out that evidence.

Stay calm and fight for your own future

No matter how serious the evidence against you may seem, there is always the potential for a criminal defense. Just because you feel overwhelmed by the seriousness of the situation does not mean that it is hopeless.

Do your best to stay calm and educate yourself about the law you allegedly violated and the circumstances which led to your arrest. This can help you determine if chain of custody claims about your evidence will assist in your defense.