The Importance Of Preserving Evidence

Preserving evidence is essential to ensuring that a trial proceeds fairly and accurately. Defence attorneys play an important role in preserving evidence; here’s what you need to know: 

The Critical Role of Evidence in Criminal Cases

Evidence is fundamental to a criminal proceeding; it can be used in plea deals, in court, and in appeal cases. One of the most important types of evidence is real evidence: This type of evidence consists of most tangible evidence, including photographs, electronic records, contracts and other documents, videos, and objects like clothing and weapons.

Understanding the Different Types of Evidence

Without evidence, the judicial process cannot proceed. In this article, we’ll focus on the preservation of tangible evidence and its importance—but it’s good to remember that intangible evidence like oral testimony can be equally (or even more) important to a trial. 

Why Evidence Preservation Is Crucial

Maintaining Integrity and Credibility

The integrity of the trial and the credibility of evidence are both compromised when evidence is mishandled. Defence attorneys and the prosecution may argue that evidence is inadmissible if it has been damaged, tampered with, or modified. The process of preserving evidence starts with evidence collection and continues for as long as the evidence may be useful—a timeframe that can span years.

Ensuring Fair Trials and Just Outcomes

Both the prosecution and the defence build their cases on the basis of the evidence that’s been permitted. When evidence is lost, mishandled, damaged, or destroyed, it can have a serious impact on the trial which could lead to wrongful convictions, wrongful acquittals, and other problems.

Trials should be based on facts, and physical evidence plays an important role in establishing the facts. No efforts should be spared in preserving evidence.

Evidence can also play an important role in appeals; when critical evidence becomes contaminated, it can become impossible for an appeals court to hold a fair trial in the same way that damaged evidence can put the integrity of the initial trial at risk. Preserved evidence can also be tested as new techniques and technologies are developed—if there’s a failure to preserve evidence, it may become impossible to exonerate innocent people or to find the real culprit. 

Consequences of Mishandled or Destroyed Evidence

Impact on Case Outcomes

When evidence is mishandled, damaged, or destroyed, it can have a serious impact on case outcomes. Crucial evidence may become inadmissible, which can sway the jury one way or the other. In worst-case scenarios, damaged evidence can lead to wrongful convictions. 

Potential for Mistrial or Appeals

When evidence has been mishandled, it may become grounds for a mistrial. Mistrials are a last resort, but when crucial evidence has been seriously damaged in the middle of a trial, the court may have no choice. 

Evidence may also be essential to appeals courts; if evidence has been damaged or mishandled, it may become inadmissible to the appeals court, which can seriously derail the appeals process. 

The Key to a Strong Defence: Prioritizing Evidence Preservation

Defence attorneys are tasked with creating the strongest defence possible for their clients; that defence must involve preserving all evidence collected that could be used in defence of their clients and challenging evidence that the prosecution plans on using when that evidence has been damaged or mishandled.

Your defence attorney may monitor the chain of custody to ensure that evidence is being properly handled and take other steps to protect your right to a fair trial. The best way to ensure that evidence in your case is handled with the utmost care is to hire a defence attorney.