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Questions abound after evidence damaged in explosion

Questions abound after evidence damaged in explosion

Washington D.C. was the scene of a bizarre incident recently where an explosion at a police evidence vault left one person injured and a bevy of evidence in the vault “significantly” damaged. 150 packets of evidence were deemed “significantly damaged” out of the 52,000 narcotic evidence packets that were contained in the vault. The incident is still under investigation, but at this time a lot of questions are surrounding the evidence contained in the locker.

Let’s begin with the most obvious question: what does it mean for the evidence to be “significantly” damaged? The significance of the word “significantly” is profound in this context. Does it mean that the evidence is beyond recognition or unable to be analyzed? If so, would the cases tied to those pieces of evidence be thrown out?

And then there is the other side to this coin: what about the packets that suffered damaged but were not deemed to have suffered “significant” damage? Is that evidence still reliable? Can it be tested or utilized to a proper legal standard?

Evidence vaults and testing labs are not perfect. Both have their flaws — namely, human flaws. Mistakes can, and will, happen. When they do, it is important for the people tied to the case involving the evidence in question to consider their legal position. A full investigation into the evidence at hand in any criminal case — especially a drug case — is imperative to ensure the case proceeds and properly and to make sure you are properly defended.

Source: Washington Post, “Explosion in vault had minimal effect on drug evidence, D.C. police say,” Peter Hermann, Feb. 2, 2017

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