When the police find drugs on you or your property after a search, they will arrest you for, say, drug possession or trafficking and confiscate the contraband. The drugs will then be presented as evidence and form a significant part of the prosecution’s case against you in court.
However, there may be mistakes in how the police handled the evidence once it was in their possession. When this happens, it could significantly affect the charges you face, as discussed below.
When can this happen?
The burden of proof in criminal cases is very high. The prosecution must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt for a conviction. Evidence plays a key role in that.
When the police seize evidence, they must account for it at all times. There must be a clear chain of custody from when the drugs were seized, to their presentation in court. Such evidence may lose its credibility before the court if there are gaps or mix-ups in the chain.
Errors in the chain of custody could also happen if the police failed to label or document the drugs they seized and when the substances were tampered with or improperly stored while in possession of the police.
Why it matters to your case
It is possible to petition the court to suppress evidence if there are mistakes in the chain of custody. When this happens, the court will exclude such evidence from your trial, and a verdict will be arrived at without its consideration.
The prosecution may find it hard to prove your guilt when key evidence is suppressed. As a result, you may end up with reduced charges or even have your case dropped. Knowing where to look for errors in the chain of custody could make all the difference in your drug charges.