What if the State Cannot Test the Alleged Drugs in My Case?
A number of news outlets are reporting on the troubles facing Florida’s crime labs: forensic scientists are lured away from the crime labs by the promise of higher salaries elsewhere. This exodus of scientists and supervisors from the state lab facilities is contributing to the increased amount of time needed to obtain reports from items submitted for analysis:
- Fingerprint analysis is taking approximately three months;
- DNA and biology samples are taking nearly three months to process; and
- Computer evidence processing now takes nearly four months to complete.
All of these numbers represent increases in the time it takes state lab facilities to provide results to law enforcement agencies and prosecuting attorneys’ offices. What do these numbers mean for you if you find yourself charged with a criminal offense in Florida and evidence must be sent to a lab to be analyzed?
Potential Speedy Trial Issues
If the government prosecutors do not bring you to trial within a certain time after you have been arrested or demanded a speedy trial, you have certain legal rights and remedies available to you. State lab evidence can be especially crucial for prosecutors, so a prosecutor who does not have the results back from the crime lab and who is in danger of violating your speedy trial rights may need to make a decision as to whether your case should be dismissed now and refiled later, or whether he or she wants to proceed to trial without the lab results. Either way, this can be a good situation for the defendant.
Increased Costs to You
If you are convicted or take a plea offer, you may be ordered to pay a fee for having a state or private lab analyze evidence in your case. So long as the state lab facilities continue to take months to analyze samples and evidence submitted by law enforcement agencies, some Florida counties will use their own crime labs or private crime labs. These facilities often cost more to operate than the state facilities. Not only this, but the state crime lab facilities are attempting to correct their employee retention problems through pay raises: expect that these increased costs will also be passed along to you as well.
Seek Assistance from a Knowledgeable Florida Criminal Defense Attorney
Only an experienced Miami and South Florida criminal defense attorney is able to examine your case and determine how the “crisis with the state crime labs” will impact your case – or whether your case will be impacted at all. Where your case is positively impacted (as in where the prosecution will have crucial evidence available to it or where the prosecution is in danger of violating your speedy trial rights, Miami criminal defense attorney Jeffrey S. Weiner will help ensure that your rights are protected and your defense strategy accounts for the weaknesses in the state’s case. Where your case or rights are negatively impacted, he will ensure you are aware of the potential impact to your case and take measures designed to limit this negative impact. Contact his offices today at (305) 670-9919.