When a person is stopped in Texas with a suspicious substance, roadside drug tests may establish whether the substance is an illegal drug. However, the tests that police administer are often flawed. This has consequences for arrests and convictions as they must be thrown out when they are on the basis of faulty evidence.
Faulty tests mean no probable cause for arrest
These tests are often given when police find someone with powder that they think is a drug. However, their thought alone is not probable cause for an arrest. If officers arrest a suspect without probable cause, it violates their constitutional rights. The field test is what establishes the probable cause. However, these tests are now shown to yield false positives. In other words, officers arrest people when they do not have a valid suspicion for the arrest.
The problem is when defendants do not go to trial
The field test is not enough to convict someone at trial. However, most defendants will plead guilty before trial on the basis of their arrest. When the test is faulty, these convictions may need to be overturned because they were based on an illegal arrest. This is happening frequently recently as defendants in Oregon and Nevada have seen their convictions overturned. It is likely that many more people who have drug arrests will move to have their charges dropped or their convictions overturned if there was a faulty field test administered.
Issues such as this one make it important for you to have a criminal law attorney representing you throughout the process. A criminal defense attorney may move to have your conviction overturned if they found that it was on the basis of an illegal arrest. The attorney may file a motion with the court for the judge’s consideration and help you understand your rights.