Law enforcement officers and prosecutors have a duty to preserve certain kinds of evidence. Learn what they have to keep, and what happens when they don't keep it.
The government has a duty to preserve certain types of evidence it collects during criminal investigations and prosecutions. This duty exists in order to protect a defendant’s rights to due process and a fair trial under the Sixth and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The duty relates to the requirement that the government disclose evidence it will use against the defendant at trial, as well as any evidence that is favorable to the defendant. The duty to preserve evidence begins once any state agency or actor has gathered and taken possession of evidence as part of a criminal investigation.