What Is Chain of Custody Definition

The chain of custody process begins at the crime scene. A forensic investigator carefully examines the scene, taking photos and detailed notes for each piece of evidence found. These notices should include the following: The chain of custody does not have to be proven for every piece of hard evidence that is included in the trial court record. Physical evidence that is easily identifiable by the witness may not need to be supported by chain of custody evidence. For example, no chain of custody foundation is required for items printed with a serial number or labeled with initials by an official who collected the evidence. Similarly, objects that are inherently distinctive or memorable (for example. B, a raid note written in purple colored pencil) can be so unique and identifiable that they prove the integrity of the evidence. The chain of custody requires that from the moment evidence is collected, any transfer of evidence from one person to another is documented and that it can be proven that no one else could have accessed that evidence. It is best to keep the number of transfers as low as possible. In court, the chain of custody documentation is presented by the prosecution to prove that the evidence is indeed related to the alleged crime and that it was in the possession of the accused.

In order to establish a reasonable doubt of guilt, the defence looks for gaps or abuses in the chain of custody, for example, to show that the article may have been fraudulently „implanted“ to make the accused appear guilty. From collection to court appearance, evidence must always be in the custody of an identifiable and legally authorized person. This is how a chain of custody could be in a criminal case: the term is also sometimes used in the fields of history, art history and archives as a synonym for provenance (i.e. the chronology of the ownership, custody or location of an object, document or group of historical documents), which can be an important factor in determining authenticity. The chain of custody is particularly important in environmental sampling, which can help identify contamination and be used to establish accountability. Laboratories should also be aware of other legal implications such as the chain of custody, expert testimony, and the relevance of scientific evidence. [10] While this is more common in the criminal justice system, a chain of custody may also be required in civil cases, for example in. B prosecutions arising from incidents involving disruption of road traffic and medical malpractice. ISO 22095, Chain of Custody – General Terminology and Models, was published in 2020. ISO describes the standard as „a simple solution“ designed to „help build manufacturer and consumer confidence and reduce supply chain costs by addressing issues such as risk, wasted time and production conditions.“ [1] While evidence can be used in court to convict people of crimes, it must be handled conscientiously and carefully to avoid manipulation or contamination.

The idea behind the chain of custody record is to determine that the alleged evidence is in fact related to the alleged crime, rather than, for example, being fraudulently „planted“ to make someone appear guilty. Court decisions and jury verdicts based on tainted, unreliable or compromised evidence would undermine the integrity of the entire legal system if such results became commonplace. One of the ways the law seeks to ensure the integrity of the evidence is to require proof of the chain of custody by the party wishing to present a particular piece of evidence. In criminal cases, the defendant may ask the court to exclude the evidence received by the prosecution. This can happen if someone interrupts the chain of custody for some reason. If the judge agrees, the prosecution cannot take that particular piece of evidence to court. If the judge removes the prosecutor`s main evidence, it may lead to the dismissal of the case. It is therefore extremely important to establish a chain of evidence for drug testing.

The process involves documenting every detail regarding the transfer, storage, analysis and disposal of the sample. Maintaining a chain of evidence for drug testing reduces the likelihood of accidental or malicious manipulation of the sample. It also ensures that the results belong to the person who provided the sample. Evidence requires conscientious manipulation to avoid manipulation. The chain of custody is called the sequential documentation or trace that takes into account the sequence of custody, control, transmission, analysis and disposal of physical or electronic evidence. The goal is to establish that the evidence is related to the alleged crime, was collected at the crime scene and was in its original/unchanged state, rather than having been manipulated or fraudulently „planted“ to make someone appear guilty. The chain of custody preserves the integrity of the sample. The traceability of the recording of the control, transfer and analysis of samples shows the transparency of the procedure. [4] Hashing uses an algorithm to create a unique impression of digital content. When someone changes the data, the algorithm creates a new hash that makes the manipulation obvious.

After backing up the data, the technician marks the hardware or device and locks it. To maintain the chain of digital evidence, anyone who accesses the hardware must log in and out. The examiner or person responsible for collecting evidence must complete the sample container(s) labels and chain forms to allow traceability of the sample. Each label in the sample container shall bear a unique identification code and other relevant information such as the place, date and time of collection, the name and signature of the person who took the sample and the signature of the witness(s). It is important that the evidence is packed appropriately to avoid damage during transport and should preferably be sealed in tamper-proof or resistant bags or with tamper-proof tapes. In general, the discovery process is where a request for the removal of evidence can take place if someone breaks the chain of custody. This trial takes place before the trial and involves the exchange of evidence by the prosecution and the defense. Discovery allows both parties to adequately prepare for the process. In all examples of a chain of custody, the judge ultimately decides what evidence to admit.

The chain of custody is the most critical process for documenting evidence. It is essential to assure the court that the evidence is authentic, that is, it is the same evidence that was seized at the scene of the crime. He was at all times in the custody of a person who was destined for manipulation and for whom he was never missed. While this is a lengthy process, it is necessary for the evidence to be relevant in court. The continuity of possession or preservation of evidence, its transfer and location from the place of discovery and restoration (at the scene of the crime or by a person) to its transport to the laboratory for examination and until the time it is authorized and admitted to court is called a chain of custody or chain of evidence. An example of a chain of custody would be the recovery of a bloodied knife at a crime scene: whether the necessary foundation was created to establish a chain of custody for exhibit is at the discretion of the trial judge. The possibilities of misidentification and falsification must be eliminated, not absolutely, but with a reasonable probability. If there is sufficient testimony to ensure that the evidence is what it claims to be and that each person responsible for the chain of custody offers testimony, discrepancies in the accuracy or reliability of the testimony in relation to the chain of custody relate to the weight of the evidence and not to its admissibility, which means that the evidence would be included in the minutes so that the judge or jury could evaluate it in light of any conflicting issues. Testimonies that the chain of custody had been compromised in one way or another. While the party presenting the evidence bears the burden of proving the chain of custody, the party against whom the evidence is presented must object to the evidence in a timely manner when it is first presented at trial, or the party waives objections to its integrity due to a compromised chain of custody. .

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