When the police get evidence after executing a search warrant or after making an arrest, there is a procedure they are supposed to follow when handling it for it to be admissible in court. If they make mistakes that suggest someone has tampered with the evidence, the court may strike it out.
Such mishaps in handling evidence are known as the chain of custody errors, and they may weaken the prosecution’s case against you.
How should evidence be handled?
Evidence connects you to a crime, and the prosecution uses it to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Therefore, the jury needs assurance that the evidence before it belongs to you and that there have been no loose ends that could compromise its integrity.
For example, the police should secure a crime scene, properly book any evidence acquired from it and ensure that everything is correctly labeled. There should be a clear and well-documented process that indicates who had control over the evidence at any point.
What if there were errors in the chain of custody?
If the chain of custody is broken and the police cannot account for the whereabouts of the evidence at a particular time, you may challenge its reliability. Anything could have happened within that period.
Therefore, such evidence can be suppressed and excluded from your trial, which is good news for you.
Learning more about your rights
It is against the interests of justice if mistakes in the chain of custody interfere with your evidence, leading to a wrong verdict. In such a case, you need to protect your legal rights. Exploiting lapses in the chain of custody can be part of your larger defense plan as you go against the charges you face.