Evidence is a cornerstone of criminal prosecution in modern courts. In order to convict someone, the prosecution must present evidence that convinces a judge or jury of a defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
It is a relatively high standard for evidence, which can make you feel despondent if the prosecutor feels confident that they already have evidence that will meet that standard. However, not all evidence is equal in the eyes of the law. Some evidence doesn’t stand up to scrutiny, while other evidence may not indicate what the prosecution or law enforcement officers or prosecutors allege that it does.
When is it possible to challenge evidence in court as part of a criminal defense strategy?
Defendants sometimes challenge evidence gathered illegally
Police officers have to follow a certain protocol when conducting searches and questioning individuals. If they deviate from those best practices, a criminal defense attorney may be able to challenge evidence gathered during a search with an unsigned warrant.
The same could be true of a confession if the accused did not receive their Miranda Warning prior to interrogation while in police custody.
Defendants can challenge evidence based on incomplete records or contamination
Careful documentation of crime scene practices and the chain of custody for evidence during a criminal investigation help validate the evidence of the eyes of the court. If someone performs a test but did not make an appropriate note in the chain of custody record, that could assist a criminal defense attorney in challenging that evidence.
The same is true if there’s reason to believe there was contamination of the crime scene or of the laboratory that conducted the testing of the evidence.
Defendants can also bring in their own experts to analyze evidence
Even if you can’t keep the courts from hearing about the evidence, you may be able to present your own interpretation of what that evidence signifies. Having your own expert give testimony about an alternate analysis of the evidence or crime scene could help undermine the prosecution’s claims and reduce how effective their evidence is.
Cases have different circumstances, so it’s critical that you tailor your efforts to the specific details of your charges and the evidence the prosecution has gathered to build their case.