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Presentation on theme: "CHAIN OF CUSTODY AND EVIDENCE HANDLING"— Presentation transcript:


2 Chain of Custody refers to the documentation of who had possession of the evidence, from the time of collection to the time of analysis and beyond.


4 What we are trying to do, is to maintain the integrity of the evidence
What we are trying to do, is to maintain the integrity of the evidence. This means, we can demonstrate to the COURT that the evidence collected, was the evidence tested and reported. i.e no change, no contamination, no replacement, etc. occurred.

5 Continuity of possession
Every person who handled or examined evidence must be accounted for Starting from the crime scene, it is critical to mark evidence, package it correctly, mark packages, ensure proper seals, record the chain of possession, preserve evidence , keep an internal chain.

6 Key Components of Proper Evidence Control
Chain of custody record (minimum) Signature of person receiving evidence Date of receipt or transfer Description of evidence Proper marking of evidence Evidence seals Secure area for evidence storage.

7 Evidence Packaging To Prevent Contamination Loss Deterioration
Appropriate To Object Labeled For Identification

8 Evidence Sealing Apply Tape Seal across all openings
EAM 02/19/03 Apply Tape Seal across all openings Initial and Date Seal


10 Preserving Original Seal
EAM 02/19/03 EAM 02/19/03 LG 2/29/9





15 Example of Chain of Custody Form

16 Documentation Sketches from Crime Scene Photos from Crime Scene
Chain of Custody documents Notes from Laboratory Exams Quality Control information Communication records Report

17 Are photographs evidence?

18 Shoeprints


20 Items (non evidence) where you might follow Chain of Custody Principles
Case record --- File folder Personnel file

21 Your case record Is it important to maintain the integrity of the contents of the file? How do you know you have a complete file?

22 Personnel Files Is it important to maintain the integrity of a personnel file? How might that be accomplished? Rules about access tracking How do you know the file hasn’t been tampered with?

23 Poor Chain of custody and poor preservation procedures can cause other problems
Quality control retest of item results in inconsistent results Defense testing shows NO RESULTS and then argues that the analyst didn’t analyze the same item. Post conviction testing results in different results….subject released from jail.

24 Role of Defense Determine if the item that was tested and implicates the suspect, was in fact the item “found in his/her possession”. Item mix-up Someone replaced the item Try to establish that the item might have been contaminated between the time item confiscated/collected to the time tested Try to establish that the evidence could have changed in some way because of improper storage

25 Role of Defense (con’t)
Try to suggest that during testing, the analyst mixed-up samples That the analyst took the reference sample and analyzed it twice, marking one of them the questioned item That the examiner mismarked evidence that looked similar to other items. That the questioned item was contaminated with the reference sample’s marker (as in DNA)

26 Role of the Defense Try to suggest that someone else had access to the evidence while it was in the process of being analyzed. Try to determine if another analyst actually did part of the testing of the item. Show that sloppy record keeping means sloppy work……..

27 Questions for the Crime Scene investigator or evidence collector.
Were precautions taken not to contaminate the evidence? How do you know that item marked item 1, is in fact item 1 as it has been identified in court. Did you properly preserve the evidence… If yes, how? Do you know who took possession of the evidence after you collected it?

28 Questions for Evidence Technician
Was the evidence received sealed? If it wasn’t, did you sealed it ? Did you document your actions? Did the evidence have the proper chain of custody documentation? Is there any question that the evidence was not preserved properly? (lengthy possession by person transporting the evidence). If there is a question, did you document your follow-up actions?

29 Questions in Court for the analyst (you are handed a piece of evidence).
Is this the evidence you analyzed? How do you know that it is? While the evidence was in your custody, did you preserve it properly? How can you be sure no one else tampered with your evidence? If this item was reanalyzed today by another laboratory, would they obtain the same result as you?

30 Proper Chain of Custody System must have:
Written procedures Appropriate supplies Proper Training Appropriate facilities Feedback system Method to improve system

31 Proper Chain of Custory Procedures must include:
Proper collection procedures Marking of evidence or packaging SEAL package properly Record of everyone one who has possession Preserve and secure evidence Internal Chain of Custody documentation followed after testing and reports written.

32 Crime scene Package Mark Seal Chain transport Sealed Preservation Security Additional notes Laboratory Sealed?

33 Testing Unit Sealed? Chain Preservation Security Analyst Additional notes Analysis in process

34 Testing Unit Evidence room Chain Seal Preservation Security transport Sealed? Additional notes Court Sealed

35 How to Improve Evidence Handling System
More comprehensive written procedures to include evidence handling, sealing, and preservation procedures Training on proper evidence handling and preservation procedures – to all personnel involved in evidence handling Standardize evidence collection supplies Audits/accreditation

36 ASSIGNMENT In groups of 2-3, complete the following activity:
There is a gang related stabbing at a local restaurant. Several people are stabbed, but only one dies. Police arrive before the suspects can escape. They confiscate six different knives from six different suspects. All of the knives are similar. Police package the knives individually and transport them to the lab. The knives are all analyzed. Only one of the knives has the blood of the deceased on it.

37 ASSIGNMENT Thoroughly answer the following questions on your own paper: What did police do correctly? What did police do incorrectly? What problems might arise in prosecuting this case? If you were the defense attorney, how would you defend your client?


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