In criminal trials, prosecutors are required to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. To do this, they generally seek to introduce evidence from the alleged crime scene. However, a trial may occur years after the evidence is taken from the crime scene. Law enforcement officers and technicians are tasked with maintaining the integrity of the evidence in the interim.
In Texas, once potential evidence is collected from an alleged crime scene, it is sent to one of three crime labs. The labs analyze the samples to determine whether any crime was committed and to aid in determining who may have committed a crime.
Presuming the evidence collected leads to an arrest and ultimately a criminal trial, the prosecution must demonstrate that the evidence collected from the scene of the alleged crime both implicates the person accused of the crime and has not been altered since it was collected. The prosecution must demonstrate that the evidence was properly collected, stored, transported and analyzed.
Evidentiary issues at any stage of the process may provide grounds to attack the evidence. What does this mean for someone who has been accused of a crime? When the integrity of the evidence is in question, the strength of the entire case may be called into question. If, for example, the prosecutor cannot clearly demonstrate that a bag of white powder determined to be cocaine is, in fact, the same bag of white powder discovered at the scene of an alleged crime, this may raise questions about the validity of the charges.
A skilled criminal defense attorney can effectively attack any weak points in the prosecution’s case, pointing out where the evidence may have been compromised or where the prosecution’s interpretation of evidentiary findings may be incorrect. Depending on the particular circumstances of the case, this may create reasonable doubt.
A knowledgeable attorney can also detect when evidence has been obtained by an illegal search and seizure. This defense tool is especially important because it can get illegally-obtained evidence thrown out completely.
For those accused of crimes, it is important to work with a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer. There is no such thing as a hopeless case; a skilled defense attorney can protect the rights and interests of the accused.