When a prosecutor charges you with a crime, they do so because the police have gathered enough evidence to create probable cause that you have broken the law.
Trying to push back against that evidence is a popular defense strategy that could work in certain situations. When can you potentially ask the courts to throw out or ignore evidence gathered by police against you?
When police performed an illegal search
Police need probable cause, permission or a proper warrant signed by a judge to search someone’s property. Police officers will sometimes overreach in their attempts to establish probable cause or even force their way into a home without justification. It may be a violation of your Fourth Amendment rights if they conduct an illegal search. The court may toss out any evidence they collected if they determine that there was a violation of your rights.
When there is significant crime scene contamination
The amount of time that passes between when a crime occurs and when the police arrived can drastically affect the reliability of the evidence. You might have just wandered past the scene of a serious criminal offense without realizing what had happened there, possibly touching something or losing a few pieces of hair along the way. The longer a crime scene goes unsecured, the easier it is to call the accuracy of the evidence into question.
When there is a break in the chain of custody
Like crime scene contamination, there is a possibility of evidence mishandling in police custody that can compromise its accuracy.
Police need to document where and when they collect the evidence, and everyone who accesses it after that must also log their contact with it. Mistakes in record-keeping could give you a reason to challenge that evidence.
Exploring all of your options when facing criminal charges can give you the best chance at a successful defense.