In the fabrication of mercuric iodide (HgI2) room temperature radiation detectors, as in any semiconductor process, the quality of the final device is very sensitive to the impurities and defects present. Each process step can change the effects of existing defects, reduce the number of defects, or introduce new defects. In HgI2 detectors these defects act as trapping and recombination centers, thereby degrading immediate performance and leading to unstable devices. In this work we characterized some of the defects believed to strongly affect detector operation. Specifically, we studied impurities that are known to be present in typical HgI2 materials. Leakage current measurements were used to study the introduction and characteristics of these impurities, as such experiments reveal the mobile nature of these defects. In particular, we found that copper, which acts as a hole trap, introduces a positively charged center that diffuses and drifts readily in typical device environments. These measurements suggest that Cu, and related impurities like silver, may be one of the leading causes of HgI2 detector failures.