Recently, I was looking through the news and happened upon a news story addressing drug testing, which applicable to this blog as North Carolina Drug Charges are big part of my law practice. The article in question, which can be read here explains that a common practices is for hospitals to do urinalysis of new born babies for the presence of drugs. One of the things they are looking for is THC, which is the active ingredient in Marijuana. Apparently, by identifying baby’s who have been exposed to drugs, they can report the parents to local authorities. Likely, these parents will be charged with some form of child endangerment crime as well as likely struggle with Child Protective Services in maintaining custody of these children. While I certainly agree that it is important to protect children, especially new born babies, from a home where drugs are present, there is a flaw in all of this as the article explains. In the article, a hospital here in North Carolina was getting a high number of positives on these drug screen tests they were performing on the babies. After monitoring all the activity of the babies in this hospital, as well as the operations of all staff that interact with them, as well as all substances that the babies come into contact with, the study found out that it was baby shampoo that was causing the positive results. That’s right, baby shampoo was causing these tests to indicate the presence of Marijuana in the babies’ urine. In fact, there were four different kinds of baby shampoo from three different companies which caused these false positives. Now, let’s stop and think, how many times do you think a parent has been accused of exposing their new babies to marijuana. How many have been charged with a crime, or worse, had their kids taken from them all from these types of tests which we now see are flawed. More importantly, if these tests can have a false positive as a result of baby shampoo, what other products can cause false positives that we don’t know about? How does something like this get missed by those ensuring these tests are 100% accurate. I mention 100% accurate because certainly we would not convict someone of something as heinous as drug use, or exposing children to drugs, if the tests were not presented as 100% accurate. Because, you see, as far as this Raleigh Drug Defense Lawyer is concerned, if the tests are not 100%, then they should not be used. I would rather we have hundreds of potential convictions thrown out due to not having adequate testing which can meet the level necessary to convict, then to convict an innocent person of North Carolina drug possession or use as a result of one of these tests. Obviously, I’m not saying that the average drug user is bathing with baby shampoo, but again, if something as simple as this can cause a false positive, then the potential for other products doing the same thing is likely. The reality is as far as criminal prosecution goes, we as a society have turned over the responsibility of proving elements of crimes to machines. These machines are inherently flawed as anyone knows who has ever worked a copier/fax machine, DVR, or computer. Unfortunately, many believe that the science is somehow better at these levels then what we are used to. To some degree, they are better, but that doesn’t mean they are infallible. In addition, regardless of how good they get, we all still enjoy a Constitutionally protected right to confront our witnesses. However, with most of this machinery, Criminal Defense Attorneys Raleigh or elsewhere are not given access to the code used for their programing in order to challenge it. Finally, the courts have just come to accept them as gospel, no matter how hard we try and show that they are prone to mistakes. This article should give pause to anyone, especially in the judicial field, from accepting accusations of criminal activity that involve scientific testing; including blood/urine/breath testing. If you are facing a North Carolina Drug Charge, or drug charges anywhere else, speak immediately with a local Criminal Defense Attorneys Raleigh or in your area to get specific advice about your case.
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