Arizona Court Denies Defendant’s Appeal in Drug Case, Concluding Chain of Custody Followed Proper Protocol

In a January 2024 case before an Arizona court of appeals, the defendant requested that his conviction be overturned because of potential issues with the chain of custody leading up to his trial. In criminal court, the “chain of custody” is the process through which evidence moves from collection to analysis to presentation before the court. Here, the defendant argued that there were important questions about how the evidence ended up before the trial court. On appeal, the higher court reviewed the record and concluded that there were no chain of custody issues, denying the defendant’s request in the process.

Factual and Procedural History

The defendant in this case was working as an informant for the government in Arizona. Under special instructions, he was supposed to engage in drug deals when directed by his handler, and he was otherwise supposed to refrain from engaging in any drug activity. One day, when the defendant’s handler was driving by the home of a known drug dealer, he noticed the defendant’s car in the driveway. He later pulled the defendant over for a traffic stop and found methamphetamine on his person.

The handler arrested the defendant, and the State charged the defendant with possession of a dangerous drug for sale and possession of drug paraphernalia. The case went to trial, and the jury found the defendant guilty. He was sentenced to ten years in prison. The defendant promptly appealed the decision.

The Court’s Decision

The higher court reviewed the defendant’s argument on appeal and considered his argument, which was that there was not a proper chain of custody to authenticate the evidence of the methamphetamine. According to the defendant, it was not entirely clear how the evidence got from his person to evidence storage to the prosecution, and this chain of custody was important to ensure the evidence was not at all tampered with.

The court reviewed the chain of custody thoroughly and ended up deciding that there were no errors. The detective that testified during trial indicated that nothing was out of the ordinary in how the evidence was processed, and that the evidence seemingly followed all standard procedures laid out by his unit. Without any evidence that the evidence was in any way altered, the court did not have grounds to grant the defendant’s request.

With that, the defendant’s appeal was denied, and his convictions were affirmed.

Do You Need a Phoenix Drug Attorney to Stand by Your Side?

If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges in Arizona, you need a top-notch, aggressive Phoenix drug attorney to help you fight your charges. At the Law Office of James E. Novak, we offer personalized solutions for every one of our clients, because we recognize that no case is the same. For representation that keeps your best interests front and center, give us a call today for a free and confidential consultation. We can be reached at 480-413-1499. You can also fill out our online “contact us” form to have a Phoenix drug attorney to get back to you as soon as possible about your case.

Contact Information