Defending yourself against a criminal offense requires planning and an understanding of the law. The right approach to take will depend on the charges involved and the circumstances leading to someone’s arrest. However, there are certain defense options that may apply to a wide number of criminal charges, regardless of the nature of the actual offense.
One of the most basic ways for a criminal defendant to push back against a prosecutor’s claims is to challenge the evidence the prosecutor wants to present in court. A defendant, after all, only needs to create a reasonable doubt about their guilt, which undermining the evidence could very well achieve.
What are some of the circumstances where a defendant can challenge the evidence against them and prevent its inclusion in the court proceedings?
When police violated their rights to gather the evidence
The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution protects people from unreasonable searches, and many court rulings have established precedents strengthening and reaffirming that right. When police officers illegally search your person, your vehicle or your home, they may pave the way for you to challenge the evidence they gathered and prevent the prosecutor from presenting it in court.
When there are contamination or chain-of-custody issues
The validity and usefulness of evidence depend on how well-preserved the crime scene was and how carefully police officers collected the evidence. Anyone from passersby to a maintenance worker could contaminate a crime scene, making the physical evidence gathered less reliable.
It’s also possible that police officers or forensic specialists could make mistakes examining or storing the evidence. If there are issues with the chain of custody, you may be able to challenge the evidence as unreliable and inaccurate.
When the state has used questionable science in its analysis
Sometimes, you cannot challenge the inclusion of the evidence itself, but you have an opportunity to challenge the way the state interpreted the evidence. When you have a forensic specialist who can attack how the state handled or analyze the evidence against you, that could go a long way toward reducing how much faith the jury or judge places in that evidence.
Considering different defense strategies will give you the best possible opportunity to defend against pending criminal charges.