Why Chain of Custody Matters in a Possession Case
Being charged with possession of drugs in North Carolina may feel like rock bottom, but charges are not as open-and-shut as they may seem. In fact, a lot can happen after charges are made that can affect the outcome of your case. You are innocent until proven guilty, and in trial, the police’s conduct becomes highly relevant in establishing the legitimacy of the charges against you. If the police illegally searched you, or made errors in handling evidence, these can be bases for having your charges dismissed. For this reason, the time when charges are brought against you is the best time to start fighting. Drug possession, particularly with an intent to distribute, carries harsh and serious penalties in North Carolina. The best way to avoid these penalties is to avoid being convicted. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you challenge the validity of the charges. In some cases, it may be an important defense strategy to focus on the chain of custody.
Understanding Chain of Custody
When evidence is seized at the scene of a crime it must be properly bagged and logged. Each time ownership of the evidence changes, this change must be logged. This prevents the evidence from being tampered with, and allows the state to prove that the evidence it is presenting at trial is the same evidence that was seized at the scene of the crime. If the state cannot produce the evidence at trial that was seized, it cannot rely on it or use it. Likewise, if the state cannot show definitively and reliably that the evidence it is presenting at trial has remained in their control at all time since it was seized, then it cannot prove that it has not been tampered with, and the validity of the evidence can be challenged, often resulting in the evidence being dismissed. In drug cases, this is particularly relevant. The primary evidence in a drug possession case are the drugs seized from the defendant at the scene of the arrest. If the drugs cannot be reproduced, or if the chain of custody cannot be established, a criminal defense lawyer can move to have the drug evidence and the charges against you dismissed.
Why to Talk to a Lawyer
Chain of custody is complex and can be difficult to discern. It takes a trained eye and a lot of attention to detail to decipher contradictions in police statements, testimony, and chain-of-custody reports. Additionally, a lawyer can find other potential defenses and avenues to success in reviewing your case even outside the chain of custody. The sooner you talk to an attorney after being charged, the better chance you have at developing a strong defense.
Talk to a North Carolina Criminal Defense Attorney
If you are facing drug possession charges in North Carolina, the time to act is now. Coastal South Law, located in Bolivia, North Carolina, is ready to zealously advocate on your behalf and fight to ensure that your rights are protected. Call today to schedule a consultation and begin building the best possible defense.