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Chain of Custody Procedure Questions

Chain of custody is the paper trail of evidence that is to be used in a court trial. The purpose of the chain of custody is to show that the evidence has in no way been tampered with from the time of collection until it is entered into court. Strict regulations apply to a chain of custody and how it is handled. Generally, every step taken with the evidence is initialed or signed by the person performing the task. Take a look at the questions below that have been answered by Experts regarding chain of custody and issues that sometimes arise.

Is a split sample urine drug screen viable and legal if the chain-of-custody form is not correct?

The only way to guarantee a specimen hasn't been tampered with is by strict procedure of chain of custody. That is why chain of custody is so important.

Authorized signatures are required through every step of the chain of custody in regards to urine samples. From the sealing the specimen cup, transport to the lab, to the final lab testing. If there are any faults throughout the chain of custody, the results from the lab can be challenged in court.

There are strict standards to uphold if a specimen is being used for court. There must be a witness to the transfer of the specimen from the host to the vile. The person who is in charge of collecting the sample must be able to testify that the sample was collected, sealed, labeled and dated correctly. If the chain of custody is weak or broken, another specimen should be taken.

Is the chain of custody broken when a city employee removes evidence in a case of alleged tampering with a water meter in Rhode Island?

Usually, if evidence is going to be used in court, there should be a list of names of people who have had access to the evidence. The chain of custody may be broken if someone accessed the evidence after it has been turned over to the state.

If there is no possible way to reproduce the evidence, it's possible that a judge find the evidence inadmissible due to the unreliability of the evidence. However, the defendant must first motion the court to do so. The only way this would benefit the defendant is the evidence wouldn't be used against them in court. The trial would usually continue.

If the chain of custody in a vehicle motor accident has incorrect information, can the case be thrown out if the case is based on the information?

It may be possible that a case would be dismissed if the basis for the case is the chain of custody. However, if the prosecution can still present a case without the information of the chain of custody, the case may continue. If there is evidence that doesn't involve the chain of custody such as eye witnesses, the discrepancy of the chain of custody will have little effect on the remainder of the case.

Another thing to consider is, even though the evidence of the vehicle may be compromised, there may be witnesses such as the people who removed the evidence that can testify to the information. Doing so under oath, this would establish the chain of custody.

What is the chain of custody and distribution points for the proceeds received from a wrongful death settlement?

The chain of custody begins with the attorney handling the case. The attorney is the first link in the chain; he will receive the settlement and deduct his fees. Once this is done, the attorney will then distribute the remaining settlement according to how the judge decided. The responsibility falls on the attorney and the personal representative of the estate to make sure distribution is done correctly and that all bills have been paid.

Few people realize the importance of chain of custody and how it may one day affect them. Something as simple as a signature or a mislabeled specimen cup could mean the difference in the outcome of a lawsuit. If you have questions or doubts about chain of custody you should ask an Expert for assistance.

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Tina
Tina, Lawyer
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Experience:  JD, BBA Over 25 years legal and business experience.
4460311
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