Many people worry about whether they can fight against pending criminal charges when the state has some kind of physical evidence. The more evidence police officers gather, the harder it can be for someone to defend themselves against allegations of criminal infractions in criminal court.
It is common for defendants to become so concerned about the possibility of a conviction that they plead guilty to their pending charges despite maintaining their innocence. There are many rules that protect those facing criminal charges, including restrictions on how the police behave and certain standards for evidence.
If there is any physical evidence that will play a major role in the prosecution’s case against you in your upcoming criminal proceedings, you may want to look carefully at the records for how they gathered, stored, transferred and tested that evidence. Mistakes in the process of handling the evidence or missing paperwork could help you develop a stronger defense strategy.
Police must maintain thorough chain of custody records
For physical and chemical evidence to hold up under professional scrutiny in a criminal trial, it needs to have a clear connection to the crime scene. The state also needs to take necessary steps to reduce the likelihood of contamination. Preventing people from accessing the scene of the crime or from handling the evidence is important.
In fact, as soon as the state takes possession of evidence, there will need to be a paper trail accounting for every time someone interacts with the evidence. Mistakes and omissions in that paperwork could help a defense strategy. If you can raise questions about issues with the chain of custody for the evidence used against you, that could create a reasonable doubt regarding the possibility of contamination or intentional interference with the evidence.
Defendants can bring in expert witnesses to raise questions about contamination or the possibility of someone having tampered with the evidence. That can be enough to prevent a conviction in some cases.
There are many ways to potentially challenge evidence
Raising questions about the chain of custody for physical evidence is only one of the many approaches that can help someone fight back against criminal charges despite the state claiming to have proof of criminal conduct. Looking into the evidence against you and learning more about the rules for evidence in the criminal courts can help someone planning a criminal defense strategy.