North Carolina drug crimes case highlights issue before Supreme Court

There are many different defenses available to individuals charged with crimes. A careful review of all the factors leading up to the arrest and subsequent trial will be necessary in order to determine the best choices available to the defendants. Even during the trial, situations may arise that allow individuals to be able to appeal possible convictions if procedures are not followed properly.

In some of these cases, especially those regarding drug crimes, the prosecution will often introduce expert testimony concerning the substances in question. This testimony will be in the form of lab technicians assigned to determine if the person was actually carrying illegal drugs at the time of the arrest. A North Carolina case concerning this issue is currently one of eleven pending before the United States Supreme Court regarding the confrontation clause, which gives individuals the right to face their accusers.

In this case, a man was arrested at a gas station after a police officer noticed he was driving with expired tags. While searching for his registration, the officer spotted a substance which he believed to be cocaine. A subsequent search turned up more drugs, and these were sent to the crime lab for testing.

At trial, a technician testified that the substance was in fact cocaine. However, this technician was not the same person who performed the test in the lab. The man contended that this did not give him an opportunity to question the person who actually ran the tests, which violated his rights.

The North Carolina Supreme Court, upon reviewing prior cases, determined that it was permissible for the state to use a different technician at trial. It noted that the Supreme Court did not provide definitive guidance in their situation. This could lead the Court to pick up one of these cases and issue a more clarifying ruling.

If you have been charged with a crime, you might have many questions about what you need to do in order to protect yourself. You may feel like you need to talk to police in an effort to clear your name, but this could manage to make your problems much worse. Anything that you reveal to the investigators could be used against you, which could mean that you have fewer options available in your situation.

You should speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney before you make any statements to police. Your attorney will be with you throughout the entire process, explaining the choices that you will have to make. Should you receive a plea bargain offer, your attorney can explain the impact that these decisions will have on your future.

Woody White

Woody White

Woody White is an experienced civil Trial Attorney, and has earned a reputation as an aggressive advocate, taking – and winning – cases before juries in both State and Federal Court. Getting the verdict that you deserve requires experience and Woody White has a proven track record of success.

James Baxter Blanton

James Blanton

Attorney James Blanton is a former state prosecutor, having served as an Assistant District Attorney in the New Hanover County prosecutor's office. He also served as a federal prosecutor, serving as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of North Carolina.