Why mistakes in the chain of custody matter

On Behalf of | Jan 23, 2022 | Criminal Defense |

Evidence is a key part of any trial. When determining your guilt or innocence, the court relies heavily on the evidence provided by the prosecution. Such evidence must be relevant and admissible for it to be used in arriving at a verdict. It means that if there are any mistakes in how the evidence was handled, it may amount to a chain of custody error.

In a  nutshell, the whole process of handling evidence matters – right from when the police obtained it to its presentation in court.

The importance of chain of custody

The chain of custody documents the collection of evidence and its transfer to other parties for various reasons like examination, storage, or analysis. With proper documentation and a paper trail of the evidence, its integrity cannot be questioned. 

This is because the person who was in charge of the evidence at any point is known, and if need be, they can be called to testify. It also establishes that nobody else could have accessed the evidence or tampered with it.

If there are errors in the chain of custody, you may dispute the reliability and admissibility of the evidence in question. For example, DNA evidence may accidentally be handed off to the wrong person, or computer files could inadvertently be transferred to a non-secure electronic device instead of one that is locked down. That can make it hard to prove that the evidence wasn’t altered in some way.

Without a critical piece of evidence, the prosecution will likely find it difficult to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, leading to a reduction or dismissal of your charges. 

This is just one of the many possible things that an experienced defender may examine during a case. If you’ve been charged with a serious crime, make sure that you have reliable guidance from the start.