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Chain of custody errors could affect your criminal charges

On Behalf of | Feb 13, 2024 | Uncategorized

When the police obtain evidence that will be presented in court, they are responsible for maintaining strict chronological documentation of who has handled the evidence from when it was collected to its presentation. This is known as the chain of custody.

Lapses or mistakes in this chain of custody can compromise the integrity and admissibility of the evidence, potentially undermining the case built upon it. Errors may occur at various stages of evidence handling, from its collection at the crime scene to storage in police facilities and laboratories. Some common examples include:

  • Failure to properly label the evidence
  • Losing or misplacing the evidence
  • Mixing up or switching the evidence with another case
  • Damaging or altering the evidence
  • Failure to keep track of who had access to the evidence
  • Improper storage leading to contamination or tampering, among others

If these or other errors in the chain of custody occur, they can have far-reaching consequences for your criminal charges.

Mishandling could lead to the exclusion of evidence

If you’re facing charges, inconsistencies or errors in the chain of custody can raise doubts about the reliability and authenticity of the prosecution’s evidence against you. You can petition the court to exclude such evidence from your case through a motion to suppress. If successful, the affected evidence will be suppressed or set aside, meaning the prosecution cannot use it during trial.

The exclusion of crucial evidence from the trial could significantly weaken the prosecution’s case. Establishing your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt can be difficult without key evidence, making it more challenging to secure a conviction.

At the end of the day, seeking qualified legal guidance can help to identify potential chain of custody issues, navigate the legal complexities involved in leveraging any errors and work towards achieving the best possible outcome for your case.