A 60 year old civilian employee at the San Francisco Police Department’s crime lab was recently found to have been suspected of removing cocaine from evidence bags that she processed. In response, the state Attorney General announced he would be sending officials in to conduct an independent audit of the lab.
According to CBS5 CrimeWatch, the Police Chief states that the lab’s troubles are simply a “technical violation” and that to think any convictions may be overturned would be an exaggeration of the issue.
The Chief seemed to be speaking in response to one public defender who had alleged the suspected evidence tampering employee to have handled hundreds if not thousands of cases and that the discovery of her transgressions could potentially lead to hundreds, if not thousands of drug cases overturned.
In addition to the audit announced by the Attorney General, the lab is being investigated by the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors. Pending the results of these investigations, the lab has ceased narcotics testing temporarily.
As the report from CBS5 details, this opens many of the drug cases that hinged on evidence processed in that crime lab to questioning. If it is found that someone was convicted on evidence that had been mishandled, there is a possibility that their case could change dramatically.
When charged with a drug offense or any offense where physical evidence is crucial, the handling of that evidence must follow strict procedural rules. Evidence handling procedures are very systematic and deviation from those procedures can completely throw a case off track.
If you are faced with a drug offense and are wondering how the evidence against you might affect your case, you need to speed with an experienced California criminal defense attorney. How the evidence was seized can be even more important than what happens to it after your arrest.
Contact us for some legal advice and to discuss all of the specifics of your criminal charges.