How can chain of custody errors taint evidence?

On Behalf of | Apr 16, 2021 | Criminal Defense

The evidence the prosecution brings against you in any criminal case can make the difference between acquittal and serving time in prison. If you fight a criminal charge in court, you should know that the evidence the prosecution presents is not tainted by errors caused in the chain of custody.

If you are not familiar with the chain of custody as it relates to law enforcement, learning more about this subject could be of crucial benefit.

The definition of chain of custody

According to FindLaw, the chain of custody is the documentation and proper care of criminal evidence. The chain of custody begins at the scene of the crime. The police utilize whatever collection techniques are necessary to gather evidence. The evidence will then travel to a location such as a crime lab for analysis. The police will also store the evidence until the court date.

A chain of custody can involve several different actions to analyze, process and store evidence for the upcoming court trial. But if law enforcement commits errors during this chain, it may taint the evidence.

Problems during chain of custody

A clean chain of custody record can help the prosecution prove that evidence seized at a crime scene relates to the crime in question. But if the record shows a breakdown during the chain, it is no longer clear that the evidence can prove guilt. For instance, there may be a mislabeling of evidence at the crime lab, making it impossible to prove that the evidence actually came from the crime scene.

The ramifications of errors like these can seriously damage the prosecution’s case against you. It could even lead to a judge refusing to admit the evidence as part of the trial. This might leave the prosecution without any solid evidence that you have committed a crime.