Defending against criminal charges requires careful consideration and planning. Different scenarios will call for different strategies. One of the most common defense strategies involves challenging the evidence used by the prosecution to build a case against a criminal defendant.
When the state has a lot of evidence against you, you may feel like it’s impossible to prove your innocence. However, there could be issues with the evidence that can help you keep it out of court. There are several ways in which you can push back against the evidence a prosecutor uses against you in a criminal trial. The specifics of your case affect which strategy is best for your situation.
Sometimes, police officers use illegal tactics to gather evidence
In order to build a sound criminal case against someone, the police usually need to collect physical evidence. In order to do so, they may need to gain entry into someone’s home, vehicle or business. Generally speaking, law enforcement officers need to announce themselves when they arrive on private property and present a warrant to gain access to a property without an owner’s permission unless they notice signs of a crime likely in progress.
Unfortunately, some officers will try to sidestep that requirement by entering a property without knocking or announcing themselves. Others may openly and aggressively violate someone’s right to privacy and freedom from unreasonable searches by forcing their way into a home without justification.
Although the courts have occasionally sided with officers who use questionable or potentially illegal tactics to collect evidence, some courts will readily protect defendants by throwing out evidence police gathered without warrants or the consent of the person involved. If you can show you didn’t consent to the search or that police didn’t have a reason to enter or search your property, they may not be able to use the evidence gathered against you in court.
Sometimes you can challenge the chain of custody for evidence
In order for evidence to help convict someone, it has to be verifiable. Proper collection, labeling and storage are all important to the validity of physical evidence. The potential for contamination at a crime scene is a serious risk. Officers should secure the area and do their best to adhere to forensics rules while gathering evidence at a crime scene.
Once they secure evidence, they must create a log for it and update that documentation anytime somebody accesses, transfers or tests the evidence.
Once they secure evidence, they must create a log for it and update that documentation anytime somebody accesses, transfers or tests the evidence. Gaps in the chain of custody, evidence of contamination during laboratory testing or evidence gathering, and other issues with how the state handles, stores, tests and reviews evidence, can invalidate the evidence and make it easier for you to defend yourself in court.