In our prior post, we talked about appeals. When an individual’s right to a fair trial has been interfered with in any way, they can appeal a conviction that was based on that violation. Forensic evidence is something that is often used in criminal cases and seems like completely reliable evidence.
The idea that it is always reliable is a complete misconception. Forensic evidence undergoes as much scrutiny for reliability and admissibility in court as any other piece of evidence. When this type of evidence is mishandled and could have become tainted in any way, it is taken seriously and is often the basis for an appeal.
Lab technicians in New Jersey are as capable of error whether intentional or not as any tech in any other state. Massachusetts is currently reviewing 1,140 cases of individuals who are currently serving time for a drug conviction after it was found that a chemist accused of misconduct had handled evidence in their case. These are simply the first batch of the over 34,000 drug cases that are scheduled for review.
The state has placed first priority on those who have been incarcerated based on the evidence. Loss of freedom based on possibly faulty evidence is not being taken lightly by defense attorneys, prosecutors and others involved. Each of the cases will have to be handled one-by-one, scrutinized and resolved by defense attorneys, prosecutors and judges.
Even those who entered a guilty plea instead of going to trial will have their cases reviewed. On 55-year-old man’s case provides an example of how tainted evidence can affect a plea. When faced with evidence of drug trafficking, the individual pleaded guilty to not only those charges but to gun charges as well but would not have done so if it wasn’t part of the plea agreement prosecutors had offered. He had not yet been sentenced for the charges and so he agreed to GPS monitoring and release on bond until the case could be resolved. His attorney said that the next step will be to request to withdraw the guilty plea.
Source: New Jersey Herald, “Work by Mass. lab could taint 1,100 inmates’ cases,” Denise Lavoie, Sept. 25, 2012
Forensic evidence can change the course of any investigation. If your rights have been violated during prosecution of your case, our firm helps individuals seek justice on appeal in New Jersey.