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Criminal Justice and Forensic Evidence Law

Criminal Justice and Forensic Evidence Law


Investigative actions from the outset of an investigation of a case are crucial to its successful resolution. There is a need for thorough and keen documentation of evidence to avoid damaging physical evidence or overlooking key eyewitnesses. As law enforcement officers comb through a scene of a crime, they encounter a wide range of material evidence, such as clothing, weaponry, or even biohazardous material. These evidence materials have to be kept safely by law enforcement officers or evidence custodians from the start of a case to the end. Failure to collect and safely keep evidence materials has, in some instances, led to the prosecution of enforcement officers involved in investigations. Also, the failure to collect and consequent safekeeping compromises public trust and cripples the criminal justice system from prosecuting offenders successfully.

Importance of Collecting and Preserving Evidence

Appropriately collecting and preserving evidence is crucial in establishing the prosecutor’s arguments. Investigating officials and states use the evidence collected in different cases to formulate facts and argument points of a case. However, such evidence should be stored following recognized standards (US Department of Justice, 2020). If evidence collection fails to abide by set standards and guidelines on evidence collection, it will eventually lose credibility. It goes to say that no court of law can admit evidence that is not credible. The first thing a competent defence lawyer asks is whether the evidence is credible or not. If the evidence was not stored appropriately, then there is a likelihood of a mistrial or abandonment of the case altogether.

Equally, appropriate collection and storage of evidence help establish defence arguments. Just like the prosecution, the defendant also requires evidence to argue their case. First, the defence examines the evidence used to develop a case to ensure that it is credible. Besides, the defence relies on evidence to create counterarguments, such as an alibi that can prove that the accused was elsewhere other than at the scene of the crime. Appropriate preservation of evidence cements the principle that one is innocent until proven guilty.

Different types of evidence require different levels of safety, thus the need to use the appropriate collection and storage strategy. For instance, blood stains are collected and stored in different ways compared to bullets or other weapons. Other types of evidence, such as fingerprints and tyre impressions, also need special protection, just like wood, furniture pieces, and glass remains to do. Regardless of the type of evidence, it is incumbent upon investigation officials and evidence custodians to ensure that such evidence is well-protected and documented (US Department of Justice, 2020). Given the diverse and sometimes delicate nature of the evidence that can be collected from a scene of the crime, relevant jurisdictions must ensure that the crime scene technician is sufficiently equipped with the suitable materials to collect and document evidence.

Safekeeping of evidence is also critical in proving exoneration in case an offender was initially wrongly accused. For instance, in closed cases, the presence of biological evidence is significant since DNA is the best evidence to prove guilt or innocence in the criminal justice system (US Department of Justice, 2020). Although it is hard to prove directly, there are many offenders serving jail time despite being innocent. In the US, for instance, there have been over 350 DNA-related exonerations. If the DNA evidence were to be mishandled, mislabeled, or corrupted, these exonerated people would have otherwise been in jail.

Moreover, evidence preservation goes in line with the requirements of different states. More than half of states across the US have passed legislation compelling law enforcement to protect evidence even after conviction. Nonetheless, the requirement faces many limitations, which sometimes make it impossible to store the evidence. Some states have, for instance, enacted statutes that allow law enforcement agencies to destroy evidence once the offender/s is proven innocent or when a case stays unresolved for a long time. Such statutes limit the evidence stored, with a limitation being set between the date of conviction and any rising petitions. Agile law enforcement agencies keep evidence even beyond the resolution of a case despite space limitations to ensure availability if such cases are revisited.

Inadmissible Evidence

One of the most effective ways to strengthen the defendant’s case while at the same time weakening the prosecutor’s case is to convince a judge to throw out the prosecutor’s evidence. A successful argument for having evidence thrown out of court can lead to partial or complete dropping of all charges against the accused. Judges can also independently scrutinize the evidence presented in a case and decide to have it thrown out for being faulty.

Judges can throw out partial or incomplete evidence from a court of law. There are three circumstances under which evidence can be thrown out of court for being incomplete: if it is only a small part of a more extensive recording or when it cannot be presented wholesomely (United Nations, 1994). For instance, if the prosecution presents CCTV footage in court showing a defendant saying or doing certain things, the footage has to be presented as a whole. The argument is that the defendant may have said or done something that can be used in their defence in other stages of the footage. In such a case, a judge orders that the entire recording is presented in court or that piece of evidence be abandoned altogether.

Also, the violation of the fourth amendment during searches can have judges throw evidence out of court. The fourth amendment protects suspects from illegal searches by law enforcement officers (US Department of Justice, 2020). However, some circumstances allow enforcement authorities to bypass the requirement. If the defence believes that evidence acquired illegally will be used in the case, they can convince judges to dismiss it.

A judge can also dismiss evidence once it has been contaminated. This is a strong argument, especially if it is DNA evidence. In this case, various arguments can be used to have the case thrown out, such as failure to follow recognized standards when collecting evidence, breaking the chain of custody at any point, or having a laboratory with questionable history conduct the tests. These factors are not sufficient to have the case thrown out of court but can weaken the prosecutor’s case and create doubt among jury members.


Appropriate evidence collection and storage is crucial for the successful prosecution of cases. Besides helping the prosecution make their arguments, evidence collected and preserved with integrity also forms a basis for defence arguments. The evidence collection exercise starts at the crime scene and goes all the way to the time a case is resolved. Throughout the period, law enforcement officers, crime scene technicians, and evidence custodians must comply with recognized standards on evidence handling. Failure to comply with the standards can potentially damage the credibility of the evidence. Besides, judges can throw out the evidence on which a case is premised due to evidence tampering or incompleteness, among other grounds presented by the prosecution.


United Nations. (1994). International Tribunal for the Prosecution of Persons is responsible for serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in the territory of the former Yugoslavia since 1991, as well as the rules of procedure and evidence. Criminal Law Forum, 5(2-3), 651–693.

US Department of Justice. (2020). A Guide for Law Enforcement A Guide for Law Enforcement Crime Scene Investigation Crime Scene Investigation.


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Criminal Justice and Forensic Evidence Law

Criminal Justice and Forensic Evidence Law

Every case brought before a judge must have evidence. Evidence is collected the moment law enforcement arrives on the scene. However, how that evidence is collected and stored allows a defence attorney the opportunity to scrutinize the individuals who collected the content. For example, the OJ Simpson and Robert Blake cases brought scrutiny to evidence collection and made the public develop a mistrust of how evidence is stored.
Write a 1,000–1,200-word essay on the process of how evidence is collected and stored. As law enforcement presents its evidence to the state, justify some of the public’s hesitation with evidence collected and stored. Provide 2 outside references to validate your claims.
• Discuss why collecting and preserving evidence is important.
• Illustrate why judges are more likely to throw out cases when the evidence is faulty or cannot be tracked.
• Cite your sources via APA.

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