The pursuit of justice depends on court-admissible evidence. So as law enforcement and legal teams work to analyze their cases, they need to log important details about how all of the evidence has been handled and shared. Maintaining this chain of custody is incredibly involved, and there isn’t any room for error. Understanding the potential pitfalls will help ensure all of your hard work to collect and review the evidence actually makes it to the court.
What Does Chain of Custody Mean?
In order for a piece of evidence to be deemed court-admissible, it needs to have gone through the appropriate channels—and only been handled by approved parties. The time log outlining these facts is called the chain of custody. This document basically works as a chronological report and travelogue for an individual piece of evidence.
It starts on who first collected the evidence. Then the chain of custody goes on to list everyone who has handled the evidence or transferred it. The court would also reference this document to learn the date and time of each party’s review. To that end, the chain of custody must be kept for at least as long as the court is considering that evidence.
Both the prosecution and defense teams need an accurate chain of custody to be able to prove that any evidence presented before the court is actually the item (whether that’s physical or digital evidence) related to the case.
Being able to track the entire journey of each piece of evidence is critical. If the chronological documentation is ever “broken” or has details missing, the court won’t be able to factor the evidence into their decision at all. That’s why agencies need a fool-proof system in place to track the chain of custody details.
Improving the Records Process
When questioning how long to keep the chain of custody, what’s really at stake is how those notes are maintained. It’s not necessarily dependent on whether you started the chain of custody correctly at the beginning, with the time it was collected, and by whom, etc. Because if anyone involved with the evidence has failed to properly initial and date that case number along the way, then it won’t matter how long the chain of custody goes. It’s incomplete, and that means the evidence isn’t viable. Fortunately, there is a simple and reliable way for service providers to maintain the chain of custody for their digital evidence.
Teams that are still working with VHS or DVD recordings for their interview evidence aren’t just wasting precious space in their building for evidence storage. They’re also making it harder to maintain their chain of custody. A modern interview recording room setup works digitally and gives detectives a streamlined way to review evidence, add notes, and make redactions. Even better—the computer software you’re using will create the chain of custody automatically!
This becomes even easier when you can pair your recording solution with a cloud platform. This allows you even more flexibility for actually sharing your critical digital evidence. We specifically designed the iRecord Cloud solution to help agencies boost their efficiency.
Automate Your Chain of Custody—with iRecord
Now, you don’t have to spend precious time outlining every single detail for your chain of custody. Just logging in to your iRecord Cloud account online automatically saves that information for you. Every step is secure. And no matter where you are, you’ll be able to review the details for your case and safely send them to other parties. Then their own details will get applied to the chain of custody too. It’s that easy.
If your agency is struggling with an outdated system, our cloud storage solutions and interview recording systems can help. Send us a message, and then we’ll start the conversation to help ensure your chain of custody is always intact.