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The Importance of Establishing a Chain of Custody for Audio/Video Evidence

Friday, February 19th, 2016

The Importance of Establishing a Chain of Custody for Audio/Video EvidenceEstablishing a chain of custody for audio/video evidence is the first step in any audio or video forensic investigation. This includes audio/video forensic enhancement, audio/video authentication. Where did the evidence come from? Who created the recording that is being entered into evidence?

A chain of custody is the documentation of who did what to evidence and when was it done. A chain of custody includes people, dates, places, activity and the recording of that information to establish the chain of custody. What has been done since the evidence was created? The chain of custody refers to both digital and analogue audio or video evidence.

The chain of custody for a piece of evidence is important to the legal community because it adds credibility to the audio/video evidence. However, it is common for law enforcement and others in the legal community to often overlook establishing a chain for audio/video evidence. It’s not because of neglect but more often due to lack of training or understanding the importance of the process.

Unfortunately, audio/video recordings are sometimes entered into evidence without documenting the evidence recovery process. When this is the case, if both parties agree that the evidence is acceptable, and tamper free, the audio/video recording is established as the ‘original’ and the chain of custody begins there.

An audio/video chain of custody begins with the evidence recovery process. This is the process of forensically removing the original audio/video recording from the recorder that created it. Based on our experience at Primeau Forensics, once both parties in a criminal or civil litigation agree on an original, they request each side’s forensic expert to establish a protocol for recovering the audio/video evidence. This protocol is written step by step instructions created by one of the experts, then negotiated and or modified and revised until the protocol is established.

Over the last 34 years practicing as lead expert at Primeau Forensics, Ed Primeau has worked with evidence recordings from client lawyers who received recordings from the police. Whenever evidence is not retrieved personally, the police reports, depositions, and other court documents that accompany the evidence must be carefully read to understand how it was acquired. This paper trail must establish a timeline; a chronological listing that accounts for the recovery, custody, transfer and storage of the evidence because the lack of an established chain of custody can easily overturn a conviction on appeal.

Call us with any questions about audio/video evidence, enhancement and establishing a chain of custody. We are here to help you understand this form of evidence and its role in court.

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Abc Def
20:32 03 Dec 18
Primeau Forensics is a professional, top-flight organization that knows how to access and deliver verifiable forensics information quickly, efficiently and productively. Don't let their cheerful, friendly attitude make you think they are not on top of their game--they are!read more
dan schulte
18:35 12 Dec 18
I received credentials from two technicians, then a third person ended up doing all the work and kept in touch with me by e-mail. I never saw any proof that the work was done and they told me they found nothing. They could not tell me what was making the noise or the lights. A waste of $750.00.read more
Teresa Galyon
16:13 13 Dec 18
Excellent work. Primeau took a low light camera recording of vandalism at my home and converted the video to images that we used to identity the vandals. Additionally, Primeau was able to identify characteristics of the vandals car that were used for a positive identification. Services were efficient, timely, and professionalread more
Todd Conte
15:18 27 Aug 18
Ed and his team are great! I took in footage of my boyfriends dog being stolen and they were so willing to take every step possible to enhance the video to retrieve the information we needed. The resolution on our camera/video wasn't great (our fault, not theirs) and they were unable to get the information we needed BUT they guided me in the next steps to take. Thank you guys!!read more
Anita Tela
12:47 23 Oct 17
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