Why the Chain of Custody Matters for Your Criminal Case

Why the Chain of Custody Matters for Your Criminal Case When you are arrested for possessing an illegal substance, such as drugs, police seize the drugs or illegal contraband as evidence of the crime. In order for this evidence to be used against you, the police must be able to present the seized evidence in court and establish that it is both the drug alleged and that it is the same substance that was seized from you upon your arrest. In order for them to prove this, there must be a clear and well documented chain of custody, essentially tracking what has been done with the evidence and who has control of it at all times since it was seized. If the state can establish a strong chain of custody, then it weighs in favor of the evidence being reliable. However, if your defense team can highlight gaps and inconsistencies in the chain of custody, it may mean the evidence is unreliable, and can even be grounds for dismissing the charges against you.

Understanding the Burden of Proof

When you walk into a courtroom, you are innocent. It is the burden of the state (prosecution) to prove to a high standard that you committed the crime you are accused of. In fact, they must prove that you committed the alleged crime beyond a reasonable doubt. That means if anyone on the jury has significant doubts at the end of the trial, you should not be convicted. The role of the prosecution becomes to present a compelling narrative that removes all doubts. This narrative will include a motive. The role of your defense becomes to create as much doubt about the prosecution’s narrative as possible to keep them from reaching this threshold.

If you are facing criminal charges in central Florida, do not waste any time. Contact HAWM Law and find out how our lawyers can help protect your freedom.

Understanding the Chain of Custody

In order for evidence to be considered by the court as proof of a crime, the state must establish that it is the same evidence that was seized at the scene of the alleged crime. If there are gaps or inconsistencies in the chain of custody, it can point to the evidence having been replaced, contaminated, or tampered with. This makes it unreliable, and without it, it is often not possible to move forward with a trial. The chain of custody must specify where the evidence was and whose control it was under at each moment from the time it was seized to the time it was presented at trial. An experienced defense lawyer will know to do in-depth research on the chain of custody, comparing it to written and verbal statements and depositions by officers to look for possible inconsistencies. A lawyer can help do a deep-dive into the validity of the chain of custody and make sure that the substance tested was the same substance that was seized and that your constitutional rights are protected.

Talk to a Florida Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are facing criminal charges in Florida, the experienced criminal defense lawyers at HAWM Law are ready to help. Call today to schedule a free or low-cost initial consultation and find out how we can help you get the best possible outcome in your case.

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