What’s a chain of custody in a criminal case?

What’s a chain of custody in a criminal case?

If you face criminal charges, the prosecution may rely heavily on specific items of physical evidence to argue their case that you are guilty.

Hence one of your key defense strategies might be to look for weaknesses with that evidence. One way to do so may be to examine its chain of custody.

The police need to keep detailed records for every piece of evidence

Let’s say you stand accused of committing armed robbery. The prosecution claims the police found a gun which proves you committed the crime. Here are some of the things the chain of custody should detail:

Where the police found it

There is a big difference between finding a weapon at the crime scene and finding one half a mile away or in another town.

When they found it

Finding something at a crime scene in the hours or days after a crime was committed is very different from coming across it months later. If an item was not found during the initial searches, the police need to justify how they missed it the first time around.

Where they stored it, and who if anyone, had access

Was the gun stored in a safe place at the police station? Or was it left in a detective’s drawer for a few days, in which time someone else could have accessed it and swapped another gun for the one stored?

The more people that had access to an item, the greater the opportunity for tampering with the evidence.

Finding out more about the possible defense options will be crucial if you face criminal charges.