What comes to your mind when presented with the phrase “white powdery substance?” The ambiguity can lead to many different images such as an ordinary household item like wheat flour or laundry soap. For those with wandering minds, it could also evoke something more risqué like cocaine. What does it mean to you?
Because defining a “white powdery substance” is sometimes unclear, so is the law in dealing with a person who is found in possession of an unknown material. For one man near Orlando, that white powdery substance found in his vehicle meant 90 days in jail on charges of drug possession. What did the police actually find in his car? Drywall because he worked as a handyman.
Police field testing is often unreliable
According to WFTS-TV, the police stopped the man near Orlando because he was driving without headlights. When police approached the vehicle, they saw what they believed to be marijuana and cocaine. The K-9 drug dog alerted on the vehicle, and then police used a field drug testing kit, which showed a positive result for cocaine. The handyman was arrested on suspicion of drug possession.
After 90 days in jail, the lab test came back negative, the charges against the man were dropped, and he was able to leave jail freely. Why did this happen? Field drug testing kits used by police are inaccurate 59 percent of the time in some cities.
Despite the errors in the kits, they contribute to some of the more than one million total arrests for drug possession in the country and are admissible as court evidence in approximately 90 percent of county-level jurisdictions, according to New York Times.
Defending charges of drug possession
Possession of cocaine carries felony charges in Florida. A conviction can lead to a steep fine and lengthy prison sentence depending on the circumstances.
When seeking legal help for drug possession charges, a criminal defense attorney can raise questions in court about the validity of the police’s use of a field drug testing kit. Because the consequences for drug possession are severe, Lee County residents deserve experienced legal representation through a case.
Identifying a white powdery substance is difficult during a traffic stop, and police drug testing kits provide unclear results. However, a careful examination of evidence can provide clarity in court for people charged with drug possession in Florida.