You might fear that there is no way to defend yourself in court if police take substances from you that appear to be illegal drugs. Sometimes, though, evidence in a drug case does not prove the charges, or the evidence might lack the credibility to support the prosecution’s arguments.
FindLaw explains possible problems that can occur with drug evidence in court.
The evidence might not show illegal drugs
Just because a police officer thinks a substance looks like an illegal drug does not make it so. Sometimes a substance only appears to be a drug but is actually harmless.
Law enforcement will have to verify that any substance taken from you is actually an illegal drug. Sometimes, items such as paraphernalia may support the notion that you were in possession of drugs, but the prosecution will likely need stronger evidence to confirm the crime by sending a seized substance to a crime lab for examination.
Problems with lab analysis
An analysis of the drugs should produce a report. In some cases, the report might show defects that cast doubt on the analysis. In the event the report presents defects, the crime lab analyst may have to offer testimony, which could bolster the argument that the report is unreliable.
Mistreatment of the evidence
The prosecution must show that the police have not altered or lost evidence during the chain of custody. However, if law enforcement did violate the chain of custody, you could cast doubt on whether the evidence truly implicates you. Without credible proof, the prosecution might not be able to prove its case.
Drug possession convictions are serious, so it is crucial to examine all possible defenses. Given how drug cases vary from person to person, you may have different options than another person in your situation.