The phrase “chain of custody” in a drug case refers to a list of all people who have had contact with the drugs since they came into police custody.  You might be surprised to know the number of different people who actually have contact with the drugs from arrest to trial.  Take this example:

1.Officer A arrests someone and finds cocaine in the person’s pocket. 

2.Officer A turns the cocaine in to the property room and it is accepted by Officer B. 

3.Officer B puts it in an evidence locker, and Officer C checks to make sure that the cocaine is marked correctly. 

4.Officer D then ships a sample of the drugs to the crime lab. 

5.Lab tech E receives the sample at the lab and puts it in a property locker. 

6.Lab tech F gets the sample out and performs analysis of the sample, then returns the sample to the property locker. 

7.Lab tech G retrieves the sample from the property locker and double checks Lab tech F’s work.  Lab tech G returns the sample to the property locker. 

8.Lab tech E then ships the sample to the prosecutor’s office (or police department) for trial. 

9.Finally, Prosecutor H brings the sample to the courthouse, where it is challenged and either admitted as evidence or excluded from trial. 

With so many people handling and dealing with that drug sample, it is easy enough for mistakes to happen. 

If there is a gap in the chain of custody – the sample could be placed in the property locker and the next notation in the chain is that the sample was placed in the property locker, suggesting that someone forgot to mark it out before putting it back in the property locker – then that can create doubt as to one or more aspects of the government’s case.  In that example, it is obvious that someone took the sample out of the property locker and did something with it, but there is no notation as to what happened with that sample when it was removed.  Big problem.

In sum, your attorney should be examining the chain of custody in any case where purported drugs were taken from you. The Law Offices of Steven R. Adams will provide you with a variety of defenses that can be used to defend you against your charges.

If you have questions about the charges you are facing or you need an experienced criminal defense attorney to fight the charges against you and protect you and your rights throughout the legal process, The Law Offices of Steven R. Adams, LLC is here to help protect your rights. Call (513) 929-9333 today to get the answers you need in your free case evaluation.

Alex Deardorff
Criminal defense attorney Alex Deardorff is dedicated to serving her clients throughout the Cincinnati area
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