Scrutinizing the accuracy and integrity of evidence is of the utmost importance when building a strong criminal defense case. In any criminal case, of course, the evidence must demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of the alleged crimes, each element of which must be supported by reliable evidence.
There are various circumstances under which evidence can be legitimately called into question. Among them are cases where evidence has been tampered with. A recent example of this is a situation out in Oregon where a forensic analyst at a state police crime lab is being investigated for “skimming drugs” from tests connected to almost 1,000 drug-related cases.
As a result of the allegations, the criminal cases connected to the alleged tampering have to be reevaluated to determine whether the analyst’s involvement with the evidence compromises the integrity of the verdict. Some cases are still pending. It remains to be seen how many appeals and retrials will result from the tampering.
Unfortunately, this kind of thing isn’t an isolated incident. Similar incidents have occurred over the last decade in at least 20 states, with Massachusetts, Delaware and Florida seeing such incidents in the last three years. Earlier this year, we wrote about a case in which a former analyst for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement was accused of tampering with evidence at a Pensacola lab. When incidents like this occur, it is critical for defendants to work with a skilled advocate to ensure their case is properly handled in light of evidence tampering.