Having video evidence of a crime may seem like an absolute way to prove what happened. However, this type of evidence does not guarantee a conviction.
Regardless of what information the video provides, there could be concerns that put the validity of the evidence in doubt.
1. Chain of custody conflicts
Law enforcement must follow specific protocols when handling evidence. The chain of custody documents where the evidence is at all times and helps to prevent compromising it. However, when one person does not follow the chain, it causes others to question the video’s authenticity.
2. Timestamp inaccuracies
A vital part of video evidence is proving the day and time of the recording. Most videos display the date and time on the screen, while others contain these details elsewhere. Unfortunately, timestamps can be inaccurate for the following reasons:
- power outages reset the time
- user error occurred when programming the device
- faulty calibration of the timing mechanism
- daylight savings time adjustments are not automatic and do not get updated
- multiple time stamps do not coincide
Videos with conflicting or unreasonable time stamps may provide enough doubt to change the outcome of a trial.
3. Video alterations
Sometimes law enforcement enhances video evidence to make it easier to see. Usually, adjusting the zoom clarifies an image. Unfortunately, too many adjustments may affect determinations of time of day, coloring, or the size of an object. Additionally, specialists may shorten a video to focus on the crime. Doing this might remove essential details and not show all the facts of a case.
Video evidence is not always what it seems. Knowing the faults of this evidence may encourage everyone to look closely at the details.