No one wants to get into trouble with the law, but thousands of people get arrested and then charged with criminal offenses in Colorado every single year. Mistakes ranging from getting behind the wheel at the wrong time to letting an argument with a loved one become too heated could eventually lead to criminal accusations.
When there is some kind of physical evidence against you, whether it is genetic information discovered at the scene of an alleged crime or an item in your possession when you encountered law enforcement, you may worry that the state’s evidence could hurt your chances of defending yourself.
What you may not realize is that sometimes how the state manages its evidence could help you build a defense.
If police officers want to use certain objects as evidence in your case, they have to carefully document when where and how they located that evidence. They will have to submit it for secure storage. Any testing that takes place will require the creation of a paper trail showing who accessed the evidence, when and for what purpose.
The chain of custody records help establish the validity of the evidence. Sometimes, police departments make major mistakes in how they intake or store evidence. When there are gaps or errors in the chain of custody records, you may be able to use those record-keeping errors as part of your defense. You can challenge the accuracy of the evidence or make allegations about possible contamination that could limit its usefulness in your criminal proceedings.
Whether the state claims to have your fingerprints on a certain object or genetic evidence tying you to the scene of a crime, carefully reviewing the state evidence will help you decide the best defense strategy.
Discovery rules require that prosecutors provide you with that evidence and give you time to formulate a response to it before your day in court. You could challenge the way police officers collected evidence or even bring in your own experts to question their interpretation of the evidence. Making use of your rights as someone accused of a criminal act could help you potentially avoid a conviction.