When Texas prosecutors present evidence that you have committed a crime, the evidence in question must credibly serve as proof of your guilt. For instance, if the prosecution produces an item they claim you have stolen, the evidence must relate to your case. If the item was never in your possession, the prosecution’s case could fall apart.
The chain of custody is the care and documentation the police exercise when handling evidence. Sometimes law enforcement mishandles evidence after taking it from a crime scene. FindLaw refers to this kind of mistreatment as a chain of custody error.
Examples of mishandling evidence
Once law enforcement has removed evidence, they will take it for analysis and storage until they present it at trial. If the police remove something they believe is a stolen item, they must store it so that they do not mix it up with other evidence later on. Law enforcement might also break the chain of custody by contaminating evidence, altering it, losing evidence documentation, or losing the evidence itself.
Mishandling evidence may lead to suppression
If you discover that the police mishandled evidence against you during the chain of custody, it will likely call into question whether the evidence implicates you at all. The probable result is that the judge presiding over the trial will suppress the evidence. This occurs when a judge decides that evidence is not admissible and will not permit its inclusion at trial.
Even if the evidence has no chain of custody errors, there may be issues with it if the police did not respect your rights after seizing it. If an officer failed to read you your Miranda rights or had conducted an illegal search and seizure, you might have another argument for suppressing evidence. Whatever options you pursue will depend on the circumstances of your case.