Russell D. Hunt, Sr, Attorney at Law
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Understanding how challenging evidence works in a Texas court

Facing serious criminal charges can leave someone feeling quite vulnerable. After all, your entire future rests in the hands of a judge and a jury of 12 of your local peers. Depending on the seriousness of the crime, you could face fines, jail time or even the death penalty. The more serious the crime that you are accused of, the more serious the consequences and the more important it becomes to mount a rigorous and well-planned defense.

One area of defense that can help those accused of serious crimes is the process of challenging evidence as submitted by the prosecution. Understanding how one challenges evidence in court can help determine if the strategy could work beneficially in your criminal case.

The prosecution needs to show a clear chain of custody

One of the easiest ways to show that evidence is not acceptable for court is to contest the chain of custody for the evidence. From the moment law enforcement gathers a shred of evidence, they must clearly record every person who handles it and every office with access to it. Omitting even one person's interaction with the evidence could invalidate the use of that evidence in court.

Similarly, anything contaminated by chemical exposure or handling by other people could end up thrown out of court. Even evidence obtained in a manner that violates your civil rights, such as during an illegal search or seizure, could be grounds to challenge that evidence and ensure it isn't used against you in court. Reviewing the records of law enforcement and the prosecutor regarding the chain of custody for your evidence is often a good starting point.

Provide an alternate explanation

If law enforcement finds something they believed to be incriminating, they can build an entire criminal case around one piece of evidence. However, many times it requires tunnel vision to really view the item the way law enforcement would like the jurors to.

If you can create a plausible explanation for a piece of evidence that does not corroborate the prosecutor's story, that can be one excellent way of generating reasonable doubt about guilt or the accuracy of the prosecution's case.

If there is an alternate explanation for a piece of evidence that could initially appear problematic for your defense, that alternate explanation could be the key to a successful defense strategy. The most important thing is to remember that just because there is evidence does not mean that you don't have a chance to defend yourself.

Evidence can be improperly handled, compromised by chemical exposure or even much less consequential than the prosecution initially believes. Only a careful review of the documentation can help you determine the best strategy for challenging evidence in your case.

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  • Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association
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Russell D. Hunt, Sr, Attorney at Law

425 Austin Avenue
Suite 1208
P.O. Box 726
Waco, TX 76701

Phone: 254-304-6354
Fax: 254-753-8118
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