Think You Know Drug ID?

A considerable amount of digital ink has been expended on this blog discussing the rules for identifying drugs at trial and related issues, although it has been several years since we covered it. It’s an important and potentially dispositive issue in drug trials. Consider the following fact pattern:

The defendant is charged with possession of methamphetamine. During her arrest and processing, she tells the officer that she has “meth” on her person, which is seized by the officers. At trial, the officer testifies to her statement about the nature of the substance, and the alleged meth is itself introduced at trial. However, no chemical analysis is introduced, nor is there any expert testimony about the substance, and the defendant presents no evidence. At the close of the State’s evidence, the defendant moves to dismiss, arguing that the State failed to provide sufficient proof of the identity of the alleged drugs. Should the motion be allowed? Read on for the answer.

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Now Where Are We with Drug ID?

Several earlier posts (here, here, here and here) and this article discuss the North Carolina Supreme Court’s ruling in State v. Ward, 364 N.C. 133 (2010), that the identification of a controlled substance based upon mere visual inspection is insufficiently reliable to serve as the basis for an expert’s opinion pursuant to Rule 702 of … Read more