The People’s Lawyer

How chain of custody errors can affect your defense

On Behalf of | Feb 5, 2022 | Criminal Defense

The legal threshold of a criminal conviction is pretty high. The prosecution has to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and evidence plays a significant role in that. It helps the jury arrive at a verdict. Given its importance, there are rules on how evidence should be handled.

The series of steps the police follow after obtaining evidence will determine whether the court will rely on it or not. This is known as a chain of custody, and it matters to your case.

Possible errors in the chain of custody

For evidence to be admissible in court, it must be verifiable and reliable. If there are flaws in handling it, such evidence may lose its integrity before the court. For instance, if law enforcement fails to secure a crime scene, third parties may contaminate it, and any evidence obtained against you may be questionable.

Other instances may include:

  • Poor preservation of the evidence
  • Lost or misplaced evidence
  • Failure to document evidence transfers
  • Improper storage of evidence leading to its destruction

All these can determine the fate of the evidence against you.

Protecting your rights

The amount of evidence against you could be overwhelming, and you may resign to fate. However, you need to be proactive in defending your rights, especially if there are such mistakes in handling your evidence.

When there are errors in the chain of custody, your defenses can include motions to have that evidence excluded from the case. It’s always wise to have experienced legal guidance so that you fully understand the strengths and weaknesses of your position.