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posted on 9/12/23

In the world of criminal defense, preserving the integrity of evidence is paramount to upholding justice. One essential element in this process is the concept of “chain of custody.” The chain of custody refers to the documentation and control of physical evidence from the moment it is collected at a crime scene to its presentation in court. In Illinois, as in other jurisdictions, the proper establishment and maintenance of the chain of custody play a pivotal role in ensuring the admissibility and reliability of evidence in criminal trials.

Understanding Chain of Custody

The chain of custody entails a meticulous and documented record of the movement and handling of evidence. This record traces the evidence from its initial collection, through various hands and storage locations, to its eventual presentation in court. The purpose of establishing a chain of custody is to guarantee that the evidence offered in a criminal case has not been tampered with, altered, or contaminated in any way. It provides a verifiable and transparent account of the evidence’s journey, ensuring its authenticity and credibility.

Why Chain of Custody Matters in Criminal Defense Cases

  • Preservation of Evidence Integrity: In criminal defense cases, evidence is always the linchpin upon which a verdict hinges. Any break in the chain of custody could give rise to doubts about the authenticity of the evidence, potentially leading to a miscarriage of justice. By meticulously documenting the handling and movement of evidence, the chain of custody safeguards against the possibility of evidence being tampered with, lost, or contaminated.
  • Ensuring Admissibility: In Illinois, as in other jurisdictions, evidence must meet specific criteria to be admissible in court. A properly established chain of custody bolsters the credibility of evidence, making it more likely to be deemed admissible. Courts generally require proof that the evidence presented is the same as the evidence collected from the crime scene. An unbroken chain of custody substantiates this continuity, bolstering the evidence’s admissibility.
  • Defendant’s Right to Challenge: The chain of custody allows the defendant’s legal team to scrutinize the handling of evidence, potentially identifying any lapses or irregularities. This provides the defendant with an opportunity to challenge the reliability of the evidence and question its integrity, enhancing the overall fairness of the trial.

Role of Attorneys in Ensuring a Strong Chain of Custody

  • Early Engagement: Attorneys specializing in criminal defense play a pivotal role in ensuring the chain of custody is established properly. From the outset, they can advise clients on preserving evidence and adhering to proper documentation procedures.
  • Scrutiny of Documentation: Attorneys meticulously review the chain of custody documentation to identify any irregularities, gaps, or potential issues. They can challenge evidence admissibility based on discrepancies in the documentation.
  • Expert Witnesses: Attorneys may collaborate with expert witnesses who can provide testimony about the proper handling and storage of evidence. This testimony can strengthen the chain of custody’s credibility and rebuff challenges from the opposing side.

Glasgow & Olsson are Your Trusted Criminal Defense Attorneys in Schaumburg, Illinois

At Glasgow & Olsson, we understand the critical importance of a strong chain of custody in criminal defense cases in Illinois. We work tirelessly to ensure our clients’ rights are protected and that the evidence presented against them adheres to the highest standards of integrity and admissibility. When you need an attorney, experience matters. Contact us today to discuss your case and learn how we can provide you with the robust defense you deserve.