In order to obtain a drug conviction, New Jersey prosecutors are required to prove that the substance in question was, in fact, an unlawful drug, also known as a controlled dangerous substance (CDS). Generally, the responsibility of testing the substance and reporting results falls with the State Police laboratory. Lab technicians are required to follow a specific protocol to ensure that drug samples are not mishandled, misplaced, or mislabeled so that all evidence is reliable and accurate. In addition, lab technicians should be closely monitored for any signs of false records or fake evidence.
Thousands of Drug Cases in Question
In recent months, media reports indicate that one NJ State Police lab technician was observed writing down results regarding a suspected marijuana sample though he never actually tested the sample. Once he was suspected of fabricating data in a drug case, the technician was suspended and the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office began identifying each case that the technician had processed since he started work for the state in 2005. Overall, he handled samples in more than 7,800 cases across New Jersey in Passaic, Essex, Bergen, and Morris counties. In a memo to the state Public Defender, the Prosecutor’s Office stated it intended to retest samples in cases when possible. However, over the past decade, the samples in many cases were destroyed after drug convictions were secured and the Prosecutor has not yet stated how the office intends to address these cases but has notified defense attorneys of the potential for false records.
Defense attorneys have long used lab errors and possibly false evidence as defenses against wrongful drug convictions. Everyone makes mistakes, however, a mistake of a forensic lab technician should not be the reason why a person gets wrongfully convicted or imprisoned. The fact that this recent misconduct was intentional indicates that many more instances of false records may have occurred and many drug convictions may potentially be overturned over the next few months in NJ.
Call for a Consultation with a New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorney Today
If you are facing a drug charge or any type of criminal charge, you should always ensure you have the highest quality of representation possible. Criminal defense lawyer David C. Barry has been standing up for the rights of clients in NJ against wrongful charges and questionable evidence presented by law enforcement and prosecutors. Whether you believe that your case may have been affected by the recent lab wrongdoings or whether you are facing new drug possession or DWI charges, please do not delay in calling the Law Office of David C. Barry at 732-238-8686 for help.