How to Maintain Chain of Custody

While those in law enforcement understand the principles of preserving evidence is critical, it’s not difficult to make small mistakes which can have enormous ramifications to chain of custody.

What exactly is chain of custody?

You might not be sure exactly what chain of custody refers to, and if you’re in that camp, you’re not alone. An EdTech article puts it nicely,

In simplest terms, a proper chain of custody establishes the integrity of a piece of evidence, showing that it wasn’t tampered with or otherwise altered since it was first collected. While chain of custody is a legal term of art – meaning it has a specific meaning in the law and can have legal consequences – it has significant practical implications for IT managers and other professionals.

The article continues to explain its value, highlighting a critical point from Scott Carlson, a partner in the Chicago office of Seyfarth Shaw, whose practice focuses on electronic evidence and complex litigation. “Although it plays a critical function in litigation where opposing counsel is challenging the authenticity of evidence – particularly where digital evidence is involved – I’ve found that there are very few who adequately account for the chain of custody, let alone appreciate its importance.”

The Office of Justice provides an assortment of tools and resources on legal definitions and processes that attorneys and law enforcement alike need to know when it comes to chain of custody. One of these resources titled Initiating and Maintaining a Chain of Custody, defines chain of custody or COC as follows: “a written legal document used to track the transfer of a sample(s) from person to person.”

How do you maintain chain of custody?

Another tool developed by the OVC (Office of Victims and Crime) explains the basics when it comes to maintaining chain of custody.

To maintain chain of custody, you must preserve evidence from the time it is collected to the time it is presented in court. To prove the chain of custody, and ultimately show that the evidence has remained intact, prosecutors generally need service providers who can testify:

  1. That the evidence offered in court is the same evidence they collected or received.
  2. To the time and date the evidence was received or transferred to another provider.
  3. That there was no tampering with the item while it was in custody.

A challenge in proving chain of custody can arise when service providers fail to properly initial and date the evidence or fail to place a case number with it.

What features does iRecord offer to meet your chain of custody needs, digital audio and video recording system need to support chain of custody?

  • Turnkey solution to record, store and play back interviews
  • One page recording user manual means NO COMPUTER EXPERIENCE NECESSARY TO OPERATE.
  • CD/DVD storage media eliminates difficulties associated with storing cassette or VHS tapes over long periods of time.
  • No extensive IT support required to implement.
  • Using CD/DVD or network storage means no more lost interviews.
  • No more rewinding or fast-forwarding tapes!
  • Notes taken individually are private to each recording.
  • ONE TOUCH Recording and VHS-style controls make operation SIMPLE.
  • Greater versatility and more time saving features than an off the shelf DVR.
  • Simple “Pie Chart” shows instantly how much space remains on recorder
  • Volume and speed control during playback of a recording.
  • Automatic delivery through a LAN or WAN
  • Automatically time-and-date stamp user text annotations that allows user to skip directly to important parts of interview
  • Easily find specific sections of an interview by searching for specific words or information in individual recordings.

Ensure a proper chain of custody in your cases today. Start a conversation with iRecord.

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