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For years, criminal defense lawyers and commentators have wrestled with thorny ethical and legal issues surrounding defense counsel's obligations with respect to handling items of physical evidence. Commentators have usually focused on the question of whether the lawyer should take possession of physical evidence of a crime as well as on counsel's obligations and options once the lawyer purposively or inadvertently comes into possession of such evidence. After discussing what the ethics rules and the law require concerning handling physical evidence, commentators have generally cautioned lawyers not to take possession of suspected contraband or possible evidence of a crime, except in very limited situations, such as when the evidence may aid in the client's defense or its evidentiary value is ambiguous without further examination or testing of it. Rarely, however, is much attention devoted to the issue of what advice the lawyer should give the client if the lawyer declines to take possession of the physical evidence



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