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When an evidence vault goes wrong

If you heard that an evidence vault exploded, what would you think the legal fallout of such an incident would be? Thankfully you don't have to leave this blog wondering the answer to that question, because this isn't a hypothetical situation. An explosion in an evidence vault caused many bags of evidence to suffer damage, some of which were damaged enough that it seems the cases involved will be dropped or significantly changed.

The story is out of Washington D.C., where 150 packets of narcotics suffered enough damaged to be deemed "significantly damaged or destroyed." It is unknown how many other packets of evidence suffered damage but weren't classified as "significantly damaged or destroyed." The explosion is being investigated. There were roughly 52,000 packets of evidence being contained in the vault before this incident.

Evidence is, obviously, a central piece to any court proceeding, may it be a civil case or a criminal case. With regard to criminal cases, evidence is tested in drug cases and during the testing process, the evidence may be tampered with or tainted, thus ruining the objective look and analysis that we are supposed to have. This is a similar problem to evidence being destroyed or ruined outside of the parameters of a testing facility.

The point of talking about all of this is to remember that you as an accused person have rights. Your case has to proceed according to a set protocol, and when evidence has been destroyed or tainted, that normal protocol can't proceed.

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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