Our Albany criminal defense attorneys at O’Brien & Eggleston PLLC know the chain of custody is a legal concept that refers to the paper trail that records the seizure, custody, control, transfer, analysis, and disposition of physical evidence in a criminal case.
In New York, and nationwide, the chain of custody is crucial in maintaining the integrity and reliability of evidence presented in court.
Our Albany County defense lawyers explain why this concept is critical to our client’s cases and how they are impacted when the chain of custody is broken.
Why Chain of Custody is Important in New York Criminal Cases
The chain of custody matters because it helps establish that the evidence presented at trial is the same as the evidence initially collected at the crime scene, ensuring its accuracy and reliability.
This includes the following:
- Preservation of Evidence Integrity
Chain of custody ensures that the physical evidence has not been tampered with, altered, contaminated, or substituted during the investigative process. It helps establish the authenticity and integrity of the evidence.
- Admissibility of Evidence
The prosecution must establish a proper chain of custody for evidence to be admissible in court. If the chain is broken or inconsistent, our defense attorneys may challenge the admissibility of the evidence.
- Maintaining the Credibility of the Criminal Justice System
A clear and unbroken chain of custody adds credibility to the criminal justice system. It demonstrates that law enforcement agencies and forensic professionals have taken the necessary precautions to preserve and handle evidence by established procedures.
- Preventing Contamination or Loss
Proper documentation and handling of evidence throughout its journey from the crime scene to the courtroom minimize the risk of contamination, loss, or damage to the evidence.
- Legal Standards and Protocols
Adherence to established legal standards and protocols for evidence handling and documentation is essential. Failure to follow proper procedures may result in the exclusion of evidence or, in extreme cases, dismissal of charges.
- Establishing Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt
The prosecution must establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. A solid chain of custody helps provide a continuous and documented link between the alleged crime and the evidence presented in court, reinforcing the prosecution’s case.
However, our New York defense attorneys may scrutinize the chain of custody to identify any weaknesses or gaps that could cast doubt on the reliability of the evidence. Significant problems with the chain of custody could impact the admissibility of evidence and, ultimately, the case outcome.
If you face criminal charges in New York, contact our Albany criminal defense attorneys at O’Brien & Eggleston PLLC today by calling (518)-391-2369 or online to schedule your initial appointment. We have a strong track record of producing real results for our clients. See how we can pursue a positive outcome for your case.