Those who enforce the drug laws in Georgia and those who provide defense attorney services are aware that certain tests for drugs can give false positives. When the police arrest someone on the basis of an erroneous finding from a defective testing mechanism, great hardship can result. It is the criminal defense attorneys who usually step forward to protect a client who is unjustly accused of drug possession due to faulty tests.
Recently, a woman spent three months in a Georgia prison when the police obtained a false report from a roadside test that concluded that the cotton candy found in her car was crystal meth. The candy had condensed in a plastic bag in the woman’s car and had taken the appearance of a white-blue substance that apparently interested the investigating officer. The stop of her car was likely due to a supposed traffic violation, and upon the discovery of the alleged illegal substance, she was arrested for both trafficking meth and for possessing it with the intent to sell it. She was held on a $1 million bond.
The two sheriff’s deputies who made the mistake of testing the unlikely substance have been sued for tort damages by the woman’s attorneys after her release from criminal custody. In such situations, wherever possible criminal defense counsel should get a court order to have the substance tested by a neutral, independent resource. In this case, the deputies knew there were fallacies in the tests, but they ignored the signs that should have alerted them to stop.
Georgia statewide procedures for administering drug tests at the scene of an alleged offense may need to be overhauled as a result of this unfortunate debacle. The chances for fallibility in such loosely-handled street testing devices must be imparted to law enforcement officers. The testing in a lab by state officials is a necessary prerequisite, or should be, to making an arrest on a major illegal drug allegation. An experienced criminal defense attorney will take immediate steps to resolve the situation when there are indications of fallacious drug testing.