Robert W. Davis, Jr.,
Attorney at Law
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Can a chain of custody prove innocence in a property loss case?

On Behalf of | Sep 14, 2023 | Federal Criminal Defense |

In light of everyday routine transactions in an office environment, employees may underestimate the possibility of property loss. This may come in simple case scenarios where office property, particularly expensive ones like laptops, gets lost or damaged.

Yes, it seems simple, but what if you were caught as the last person in possession of the lost item, and it costs your entire career’s worth of paycheck? Establishing a chain of custody may be able to prove your innocence.

Understanding chain of custody

The chain of custody is like a detailed roadmap that traces the journey of a piece of evidence or property from the moment it was discovered to its presentation in a courtroom. It documents who had possession of it, when and what they did with it. This meticulous record-keeping is essential for maintaining the integrity and credibility of evidence.

The importance of documentation

Every step in the chain of custody must be well-documented. This documentation includes:

  • The names and signatures of individuals who have had contact with the property
  • The dates and times of the transfer
  • The purpose of the transfer

Even seemingly minor lapses in documentation can cast doubt on the integrity of the evidence and, subsequently, your innocence.

Preserving physical evidence

Physical evidence is often at the heart of the matter in property loss cases. Ensuring that the property in question is preserved in its original condition is crucial. If, for example, a valuable item is alleged to be missing, keeping it intact and unaltered can be the key to proving your innocence.

Witnesses and surveillance

Having impartial witnesses who can vouch for the proper handling of the property can be invaluable. In cases involving business assets, surveillance footage can also play a pivotal role in establishing a clear and defensible chain of custody.

Legal assistance

No matter how expensive the lost or damaged properties are in property loss cases, a defensible chain of custody is your strongest ally when innocence is on the line. If these cases become more legally complex, seeking legal counsel early in the process can help protect your rights. With proper measures in place, you can build a compelling case to prove your innocence and protect your reputation.


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