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All evidence must follow a proper chain of command if it is to be used effectively in a criminal case. If any evidence is improperly marked, documented, or lost it could jeopardize a case. If evidence is left out of the evidence room or winds up in the wrong hands it could lead to the dismissal of charges against a defendant in a criminal case. Today, our Los Angeles criminal defense attorney would like to discuss the proper chain of command when it comes to evidence.
Evidence has to be tagged and tagged correctly so that the officers who worked on the case are able to identify each piece appropriately at a later date. The people responsible for tagging and bagging evidence are the crime scene investigator and the evidence recovery, technician. Their role in the chain of command is the most important because if evidence is not tagged or labeled correctly it can be thrown out of a case, leading to a mistrial or charges being dropped.
The chain of custody begins on the crime scene with the investigator and the evidence recovery technician. If they fail to perform their duties as required then the chain of command is already broken and the evidence is considered contaminated. The exact definition for chain of command when it comes to evidence is the witnessed and written record of everyone who came in contact with the evidence and had unbroken control of it. Following the chain of command ensures that the evidence collected at the scene is the same evidence that is entered in the courtroom.
The chain of custody establishes the following important items in a criminal case:
Police officers and crime scene investigators are required to follow proper procedures for tagging evidence at the scene. No evidence should be removed from the scene if it has not been tagged, bagged, and logged. The following information must be on every evidence tag:
Almost all of the same information must be marked on the outside of the packaging for the evidence. This helps to maintain the chain of command should the tag fall off the evidence and cannot be found.
Should you or your attorney have reason to believe that there are issues with the chain of command for evidence you can open an investigation into the matter. There very well could be missing evidence, improperly tagged items, or other issues that could lead to having your charges dismissed.