Identification and production of exhibits
Where any recoveries have been made in the cause of investigations, the prosecution together with the investigator will determine whether or not to use them in the cause of the trial bearing in mind their relevance. Production of exhibits before the courts is done by the officer who made recoveries; since most criminal cases start with key witnesses; those witnesses are required to identify such exhibits; at this stage the exhibits will be marked for identification i.e. MFI 1,2,3, ETC. The exhibits will then be shown to all other witnesses who may need to identify them. The officer who made the recoveries and in whose custody the exhibits were being held prior to the trial will then produce them at which point they will be marked as Exhibit 1,2,3 etc.
Exhibits once produced before the courts must be properly stored and should not be tampered with until the end of trial.
Return and Destruction of Exhibits
The general rule is that at the end of trial the exhibits should be returned to their owners where there is no dispute as to ownership. Where there is a dispute on ownership in a criminal court then the parties disputing will go before a civil court for inter-pleader proceedings to determine ownership. It is also a general practice that exhibits that are bulky or delicate or perishable and whose storage may be problematic can be returned to their owners once they have been produced but before the trial ends. In cases of bulk where there is no storage space, the court can make an order for return of those goods, contraband goods are usually forfeited to the state those that are illegal and dangerous such as drugs are destroyed by the court. the court must preside over the destruction of such exhibits; depending on the quantities and level of security threats such exhibits will be destroyed by the trial court not withstanding the possibility of appeal in all other cases destruction and forfeiture should only occur after 14 days when the Right of Appeal has lapsed. If exhibits are destroyed before the appeal period the accused person may argue at appeal that destruction of exhibits is an impediment to their appeal so the courts must be careful in deciding to destroy exhibits before the trial ends.