In recent years, state-funded and privately run crime labs all over the nation have come under fire due to numerous scandals. The decision whether to convict or set a person accused of criminal wrongdoing free often turns on a piece or pieces of evidence analyzed by a crime lab. Positive DNA evidence, blood alcohol samples and other highly incriminating evidence often inspire the conviction of suspects, even if the rest of their criminal defense suggests that they had little or nothing to do with the criminal acts in question.
As a result, it is imperative that evidence sent to crime labs is properly handled, processed and analyzed. Failure to treat this evidence with respect and failure to properly handle such evidence can ultimately lead to the unjust conviction of innocent persons or the unjust release of individuals who should be held accountable for their actions.
Most recently, a state crime lab scandal hit the state of Florida. After the state began an investigation into drug-related evidence that had gone missing, a crime lab employee connected to the case resigned. The Florida Law Enforcement Department has speculated that the missing drug evidence could impact and ultimately compromise hundreds of Florida criminal law cases.
The crime lab chemist who resigned is currently under investigation for allegedly substituting non-prescription medications for prescription painkillers present in the lab.
If you have questions about how this scandal may affect your case or how improperly handled evidence could impact a case that affects you, please contact an experienced criminal law attorney for more information.
Source: Miami Herald, “Fla. lab worker investigated over missing drugs,” Melissa Nelson-Gabriel, Feb. 3, 2014