The chain of custody is the orders and manners through which police officers handle physical or electronic evidence relating to a crime or civil investigation. The chain of control ensures that the prosecution side proves all evidence of a criminal trial in a documented manner without breaking the chain of custody. The court may fail to recognize the items related to a particular crime if the officers present them in a disorganized way that violates the chain of custody. Therefore, the chain of custody documentation must indicate the chronology of the evidence collected from the time of collection, how it was collected, and who had the evidence where they keep the evidence either physically or electronically. For a successful conviction of a criminal by the jury, the evidence collected against them demands meticulous handling to avoid contamination or tampering. Thus, the chain of custody facilitates a thorough investigation process and enables the judge and the jury to decide the case effectively.
In the coffee shop scenario, the police officer broke the chain of custody, hence jeopardizing the arrest of the hard illegal drugs’ owners and preventing their prosecution in court, which calls for an investigation. According to Obdam (2016), police officers have no permission to impound evidence at the crime scene. Marijuana is an illegal hard drug that made the coffee shop manager report their presence in his public rest room to avoid legal accusation. Even though it was impossible to determine the owners of the drug, the presence of the drugs drug confirmed the presence of a black market that involved the hard drugs. Probably, the drugs were left by the supplier who had an agreement with their clients, who probably delayed collecting them, and the management, therefore, caught them. Hence, the police officers should have stayed to servile the coffee shop to identify the intended recipient, who could then be arrested with the evidence, thus allowing further investigations. Therefore, an investigation is necessary on the police officer for violating the policies and the state laws.
In the scenario, the police officer claimed that the drug owner was unidentified, and therefore it was impossible to press charges. For this reason, the police officer ordered the manager to flush the marijuana in the toilet and drain the hash oil in the sink. Although the drug owner was unidentified, impounding the drugs was unethical and illegal since it was evidence of an ongoing black market. Besides, the officers’ discretion was inappropriate in determining whether to retain the drugs or impound them. According to Schwinn (2013), items associated with a crime must not be confiscated whether they have been documented as evidence or not. The police officer should have collected the drugs and submitted them to the station for further scrutiny to confirm that they were the suspected drugs. Hence, there was an open investigation on the owner and the targeted customer.
Since the officers did not fully account for the drugs or create an inventory at the station concerning the drugs, the drugs are likely to be involved in a black market whereby a person in the hotel could have been the owner of the drugs, but the hotel owner mistakenly identified them. Hence, discarding them will allow them to retrieve the drugs, thus facilitating operations in the black market. Furthermore, illegal impounding of crime evidencecreates opportunities for more crimes and also creates an opportunity for other people to accuse others of illegally using the items as evidence (Prayudi& Sn, 2015). In the scenario above, impounding the evidence created room for the drug owner to continue using the drugs and put the hotel owners at the risk of attacks by the drug owners who lost a lump sum of the money.
Most police agencies have clear rules on impounding evidence to avoid all risks of illegal possession of crime evidence. For instance, California laws of planting evidence dictate the covering of all physical objects useful for any trial, investigation, or legal proceeding. Furthermore, the law dictates that all evidence collected from the crime scene must be delivered to the station and stored in the evidence room appropriately in a way that prevents contamination, destruction, or loss (Schwinn, 2013). Other agencies also propose that evidence impounding can only be done after completing an investigation that confirms the disconnection of the evidence to the case or after the complete closing of the case. These laws ensure that crime suspects are pretty convicted and justice served to both the accuser and the accused. Evidence impounding laws also ensures the safety of those providing the evidence, like the witnesses. In this case, human evidence is granted security to avoid any incidence of elimination by the defendant’s associates. For proof, like in the above scenario, the laws prohibit impounding since it gives a platform for further investigation of illegal operations related to the evidence, allowing arrests and prosecution of those involved. In such a scenario, the public expects the police officer to collect the items as evidence. The people also expect the legal authorities to carry thorough investigations to identify how the drugs got to the hotel from the sender to the purpose. Therefore, the police investigations assure them of a safe community where the morality of their children is uncompromised.
In conclusion, the chain of custody is the orders and manners through which police officers handle physical or electronic evidence relating to a crime or civil investigation. The chain of custody documentation indicates the chronology of the evidence collected from the time of collection, how it was collected, and who had the evidence where they keep the evidence either physically or electronically. Agencies have set laws and principles prohibiting evidence impounding for adequate trials and investigations. Legal measures are applied in impounding evidence whereby authorization is given only after the police investigation or closure of a case.
Obdam, J. (2016). Addressing police misconduct with interdisciplinary interactions. Police Academy of the Netherlands| Canterbury Christ Church University: Master of Science in Policing.https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Jeroen-Obdam/publication/336512175_POLICE_ACADEMY_OF_THE_NETHERLANDS_CANTERBURY_CHRIST_CHURCH_UNIVERSITY_Addressing_police_misconduct_with_interdisciplinary_interactions/links/5da42daf92851c6b4bd35a5c/POLICE-ACADEMY-OF-THE-NETHERLANDS-CANTERBURY-CHRIST-CHURCH-UNIVERSITY-Addressing-police-misconduct-with-interdisciplinary-interactions.pdf
Prayudi, Y., & Sn, A. (2015). Digital chain of custody: State of the art. International Journal of Computer Applications, 114(5).https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Yudi-Prayudi/publication/273694917_Digital_Chain_of_Custody_State_of_The_Art/links/5508eb510cf2d7a2812b6945/Digital-Chain-of-Custody-State-of-The-Art.pdf
Schwinn, S. D. (2013). May Prosecutors Use Evidence against a Criminal Defendant That They Obtained from Officers’ Warrantless Searches of His Smartphone at the Time of His Arrest and Later after They Took Him to the Police Station for Booking (13-132). Preview US Sup. Ct. Cas., 41, 294.https://heinonline.org/HOL/LandingPage?handle=hein.journals/prvw41&div=83&id=&page
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