Protecting Your Future Begins with Securing The Strongest Defense Against Criminal Charges
Protecting Your Future Begins with Securing The Strongest Defense Against Criminal Charges
  1. Home
  2.  → 
  3. Criminal Law
  4.  → How can chain of custody errors taint criminal evidence?

How can chain of custody errors taint criminal evidence?

Evidence against you in a criminal case must be credible and conform to constitutional standards. If there is a problem with the evidence, your legal counsel would likely file a motion to have the court suppress it. If the judge agrees there is a problem, the court will not admit the evidence in trial. This may happen if the evidence experienced chain of custody errors.

FindLaw explains that the chain of custody describes both the documentation of criminal evidence and how law enforcement handles the evidence up until a criminal trial. In the event the police have mishandled evidence during this process, it may taint the evidence and deprive it of credibility.

Identification errors

Part of establishing the credibility of evidence is to identify the evidence as what the prosecution says it is. If a prosecutor produces a gun and says it belongs to the defendant, the prosecutor must establish that this is the case. However, a chain of custody error in identification could result in mixing up evidence. To take an example, someone in a crime lab mislabels a blood sample as belonging to a different person, which could make it impossible to identify the true owner of the blood.

Contamination errors

Contaminating evidence is another error that could deprive evidence of credibility. This may involve the addition of foreign substances at a crime scene that taint evidence and cause it to identify an innocent person. A crime lab could also mishandle evidence through improper handling procedures, using the wrong tools on the evidence, or poor storage that damages or degrades the evidence.

The role of an evidence log

Law enforcement usually tracks the movement of evidence through an evidence log. This document establishes who was handling evidence and what the person did with it. A well-documented evidence log should establish a chain of custody with no errors that could compromise the evidence.

In the event an evidence log lacks information about who had custody of the evidence at a particular time, it would break the chain of custody and create possible grounds to suppress the evidence. An evidence log is something to pay attention to when it comes time to verify the credibility of evidence against you.

Share This