For the state to bring criminal charges against an individual, there generally needs to be evidence of intentional misconduct. In most cases, police officers or investigatory authorities may spend weeks or longer building a criminal case against an individual. Once a prosecutor agrees that police officers have evidence beyond a reasonable doubt of criminal activity, they may bring charges against an individual. Criminal charges typically carry significant penalties ranging from financial consequences and license suspensions to incarceration.
Someone who is facing charges and is aware that the state has evidence against them may feel as though they have no chance of defending against their pending charges successfully. However, there are certain tactics that people can use to respond to criminal allegations when the state seems to have strong evidence.
Raise questions about illegal searches
Not only does the state need to have sufficient evidence of criminal activity to prosecute someone, but state authorities cannot violate the law or someone’s civil rights while collecting that evidence. There are numerous rules that apply to searches depending on what location officers search and why. Illegal searches could give an attorney grounds to challenge the inclusion of specific evidence during a trial because of the violation of someone’s rights.
Demonstrate issues in police procedure
For evidence to be authoritative and useful, the state needs to properly analyze it and make efforts to reduce the risk of contamination or inaccurate test results. Perhaps the prosecutor wants to use a failed breath test as evidence of impaired driving, but the local police department failed to properly calibrate the device or update its software.
Maybe police officers failed to secure the scene of the crime, raising questions about potential contamination. There could even be questions about the chain of custody because of undocumented transfers of the evidence. If police do not follow the right procedures, the evidence they gather may not be useful during a trial.
Bring in expert witnesses
The testimony of experts can have a major impact on the outcome of a criminal case. A variety of different forensic specialists, ranging from accountants to scientists, could help provide an alternate explanation that does not involve the defendant breaking the law. They could also show that the state did not follow best practices or recent updates in forensic science when analyzing the evidence against someone.
Reviewing the state’s evidence – with the assistance of an attorney – using the right of discovery is usually the first step toward developing an effective defense strategy when someone has been accused of breaking the law.