A Field Drug Test Gone Wrong
A field drug test is something that cops keep on them to test substances found in people’s vehicles or in their possession. A crumb found on the floor in your car, or powder in your pocket – any of that can be tested with a quick dip into one of these kits. On more than one occasion, these tests have gone wrong – indicating an illegal substance when none was present. This simple mistake has ruined lives.
In Amy Albritton’s case, she was on the road in Houston with her boyfriend at the time when they were pulled over by the cops. The officers suspected that drugs were in the car, and tested a white crumb on her floor. The field test indicated that the crumb was crack cocaine. Because the car belonged to Albritton, she ended up being charged as a felon.
False Positive Field Drug Test Means a Felony Charge
Albritton spent 21 days in jail, lost her job, and lost her apartment. It took years for her to rebuild her life, all with a felony conviction hanging over her head. She was turned away from job opportunities and places to live, all because of her record. She never disputed the cops because she thought the chemical evidence was there, in the test, and she also hadn’t known her boyfriend for very long at the time. She thought maybe he had something to do with the drugs in the car.
Years later, in 2014, Albritton got a letter in the mail telling her she was wrongfully convicted. They had re-tested her sample and it was negative – likely just a piece of food or lint that had made its way onto the floor of her car. In that district attorney’s office alone, 251 cases of incorrect evidence were found between 2004 and 2015 – all people who were named guilty but were actually innocent.
Wrongful Field Drug Tests Are Not Unusual
There are so many cases like hers that deserve more attention. Being labeled a felon has serious consequences that can affect a person’s work life, where they live, and how they are viewed by society. Additionally, it isn’t easy to reverse a wrongful felony conviction. Even after it is overturned, the reversal needs to be finalized by a trial court. And then, once the charge is cleared, in today’s digital world, the felony is shared with hundreds – if not thousands – of websites.
It’s an ordeal to get rid of, but better to finally prove your innocence than spending the rest of your life with the wrongful charge hanging over your head.