Police officers have a difficult job that requires handling many vital details. The stress and workload can create multiple opportunities for mistakes.
Such errors may compromise the state’s case against a defendant. The following oversights could even lead to a dismissal of charges.
Not collecting or securing evidence properly
Improper evidence collection can include mishandling DNA samples and fingerprints or failing to document physical evidence at a crime scene. Officers must also store such items correctly so that tests do not render inconclusive or erroneous results.
Additionally, police have to maintain a proper chain of custody when transferring physical evidence between locations. A lapse could lead to the contamination or destruction of vital proof of the facts.
Violating constitutional rights
Law enforcement must advise suspects of their constitutional rights before questioning. A person should understand the right to remain silent and that prosecutors may use their statements against them.
The Fourth Amendment protects citizens from unlawful search and seizure. An officer must secure warrants when necessary and avoid using excessive force. If an officer violates any of these rights, the court may need to exclude evidence or even reduce or dismiss charges.
Not securing the crime scene
Law enforcement personnel must secure a crime scene immediately upon arrival. They should also block off perimeter areas and maintain crowd control to preserve any potential evidence.
Failure to do so could allow possible witnesses or suspects to escape. Also, someone might contaminate or destroy evidence, obscuring the facts of the case.
Everyone has the right to go through the proper procedures when facing charges. When police make mistakes, a defendant can challenge the prosecution’s case.