When you find yourself accused of a criminal offense, like drug possession, you may worry about what will happen if you end up convicted. Many people fear the worst-case scenario so much that they plead guilty and get saddled with a lifelong criminal record because of their fear of the possible consequences.
A guilty plea won’t protect you from criminal consequences. Even when the state claims to have significant evidence against you, it is often still possible to convince the courts of your innocence or at least raise the reasonable doubt that you need to avoid a criminal conviction.
Challenging the evidence could be a way to prevent the prosecutor from developing their case against you. What are two of the main reasons that a defendant would have grounds to challenge the inclusion of certain evidence?
When police violated their rights
The Bill of Rights and the way the courts have interpreted it give you protection from inappropriate searches and other forms of misconduct by the police. Issues related to illegal police activity can quickly compromise the usefulness of evidence gathered by those officers.
If a defendant can reasonably claim that officers conducted an illegal search or otherwise violated their rights who are the law, they may be in a position to ask the courts to exclude that evidence from the trial. Violations of proper search procedures or a police officer stopping someone without justification could lead to the courts throwing out the evidence they gathered.
When there are laboratory or documentation errors
The usefulness of physical evidence depends on how reliable that evidence is. When there is proof of chemical contamination or a significant gap in the chain of custody records related to how the police stored and handle the evidence, a defendant’s lawyer may be in a position to challenge that evidence based on improper police procedure or errors in the chain of custody records.
Defendants sometimes also bring in expert witnesses to raise questions about how the state handled certain evidence or the conclusions police officials or prosecutors reach. Any information that raises questions about the accuracy of the analysis of evidence could help you avoid a conviction.
Successfully challenging evidence can reduce the likelihood of a prosecutor convicting you, which is why looking at the validity of evidence is an important step for those facing drug charges or similar criminal offenses backed by some kind of physical evidence against them.