Imagine, for a moment, that you have spent the morning drinking tea or burning a legal sage mixture. In neither of these circumstances would you ever expect to end up in legal trouble, but this is exactly what has happened to several people due to the misapplication of the Duquenois-Levine (D-L) test.
Two U.S. superior court justices raised questions about the D-L test all the way back in 2011, and there have been numerous instances of falsely convicted individuals complaining about this test for decades. Shockingly, in one incident, a federal judge decided that it was completely legal for a SWAT team to raid someone’s home based on one test result and the fact that the person in question had shopped at a gardening supply store seven months earlier.
Widespread Use of Inaccurate Tests
There are many problems with the D-L test, not least of which is how subjective the entire process is. The group California Attorneys for Criminal Justice has compiled an extensive report after a two-year study into this issue, and they discovered that the D-L test is “woefully inaccurate.” There are several plant-based substances that turn purple in the same way that marijuana does during the testing phase. Therefore, it is basically impossible for any law enforcement officer to say with 100% certainty that someone has an illegal drug in their possession purely based on the results of the D-L test.
Unfortunately, this has not prevented officers and prosecutors nationwide from continuing to use the D-L test as the main basis for their case against innocent people. The good news, though, is that lawyers are aware of this lack of scientific evidence, and they can help people avoid a wrongful conviction.
Do you have cause for a lawsuit?
Those who have been wrongfully convicted or treated badly during a wrongful arrest because of a false-positive have legal rights. It is important to note that the distinction between a false and a bad arrest is critical, and determining which one applies to your situation will make it clear whether or not you have a viable case.
For example, if you are arrested because an officer had a valid reason to believe that you had marijuana in your possession, a lawsuit may not be permitted by the local court system. This is especially true if you ended up being set free without having any formal charges filed against you. On the other hand, if you are physically injured or denied your basic rights during the time period that you are arrested, it is a wise idea to contact an attorney and move forward with a lawsuit.
It remains to be seen exactly how much of an impact the knowledge of the many inaccurate D-L tests, combined with President Obama’s recent interest in reducing the sentences of non-violent drug offenders, will have on the legal system. However, anyone who has been wrongfully arrested or convicted based on an erroneous D-L test now has several people in high places on their side, including at least two U.S. superior court justices. When you consider all of these factors, it is easy to speculate that lawsuits regarding these inaccurate tests will continue to rise.