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Field drug tests can be faulty

On Behalf of | Jul 10, 2020 | Criminal Defense |

When Oregon residents are searched, there is a test that reveals whether substances that they are found with are illegal narcotics. However, there are problems with this test, even leading to multiple drug convictions being overturned. These cheap tests are causing extensive appeals and putting a number of convictions up in doubt.

The tests are supposed to be simple: All an officer needs to do is take the substance they seized and drop it into the pouch of chemicals. If the chemicals change colors, it is likely that the substance is an illegal drug and there is probable cause to make an arrest. The tests are only used to establish probable cause as courts need more detailed proof and testing results to determine that something is an illegal narcotic.

The problem with these tests is that they can lead to false positives. This takes away the fundamental underpinning of the arrest, namely that there is probable cause. Without probable cause, the arrest itself is illegal.

The defendants in these cases might plead guilty to a crime based on the test results yielded by the kit as opposed to waiting for trial and a more formal test. Since the arrest itself was invalid, the prosecution might move to drop the charges and set aside the convictions. Recently, three different jurisdictions have set aside convictions from these faulty tests.

Those who have been arrested and are facing charges may need the services of a criminal defense attorney. These drug charges are often dependent on laboratory and chemical evidence as well as other forms of witness testimony. However, this evidence is not always admissible in court, and it may be faulty. An attorney may investigate and object to the admission of evidence when necessary to protect their client’s legal rights in a criminal proceeding.