Why Chain of Custody Plays an Important Role in Criminal Cases
Chain of custody is not a casual term that everybody is familiar with but it is one that holds paramount importance in criminal cases. It is a track record of everything found at an alleged crime scene that is used to prove or crack a case. In simple words, any criminal case depends on the evidence presented in the court. The chain of custody shows to the court that the evidence presented at trial is the same as presented in court. If there’s any discrepancy in the handling of evidence then it can be challenged.
What is Chain of Custody?
Before one can discuss the importance, it is essential to understand the definition of the chain of custody. Chain of custody definition would be, a chronological documentation that maintains the record of the handling of evidence in a criminal case. Confused? Think of a crime scene. All the evidence found at the crime scene is collected by the police officers. Then the evidence is transferred for examination and analysis by forensic experts. Based on their reporting, the evidence is used in a trial.
All the collection, examination, analysis, and storage need movement of the evidence. All these details are filled in the chain of custody form. It is crucial to maintain proper documentation of all this activity to ensure that at no point evidence was compromised. This chain of custody provides a correct record of handling of evidence throughout the investigation. Evidence can include anything from blood, DNA samples, clothing, digital data, and such. This is why it is essential to maintain a proper record of the chain of custody to ensure that at no time was the evidence handled improperly.
The chain of custody form mentions everyone that at any point came in contact with the evidence along with the details on what was the evidence used for. The documentation is also required to include complete details on how, where, and by who the evidence was moved. The manner used for transfer and storage, all the little details play an important role in the chain of custody.
Importance of Chain of Custody in Criminal Cases
Needless to say, the evidence is what decides the fate of the trial. In any criminal case, evidence is pivotal. Delicate evidence like blood samples and DNA samples can greatly affect the fate of the case. Any mishandling during transfer or examination can lead to tampering of the evidence. If at any point, a discrepancy is found, it can be challenged in court and ruled inadmissible.
Larn More : General principles of crime scene investigation
The responsibility of maintaining a clean chain of custody falls on the prosecutor. So if a defendant feels that there has been any mistake in handling the evidence, they can challenge it and prove that the evidence is not in the same condition or replaced or tampered with and cannot be used for conviction. It holds such weight that no testimony can be considered relevant if the defendant can prove that the chain of custody has been broken.
To end with, the chain of custody is given more importance than the evidence itself since it is what proves the authenticity of the evidence.
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