Why a Lab Report Matters when Facing NJ Criminal Charges

Medical report and test containers to an analytical study

Have you been arrested and the police say they have a lab report? Do you understand what it means and how it can be used against you? Our experienced criminal defense lawyers can help explain and review your case to determine if there have been any irregularities or issues with the lab reports. Here is an overview of why a lab report matters in your criminal case.

Charged with a Crime and there is a Lab Report in New Brunswick

A lab report may be part of your discovery. If you have been charged with a crime in New Jersey you are entitled to receive discovery. Discovery is anything that the State has and intends to use against you. Some examples of discovery are: police reports, videos, dash-cams, photographs, drug samples, statements and lab reports.
Often included in discovery is a lab report. A lab report is a document generated by the New Jersey State Police Lab that references some item that was taken during the course of an investigation and needs to be tested. The item tested can help prove the State’s case or can help us in defending your case.

If you have been charged with an indictable offense, it means that the state alleges that you have committed a first degree, second degree, third degree, or fourth degree crime. Other States may refer to indictable crimes as felonies. These cases are handled by the county prosecutor’s office in the Superior Court, Criminal Division, of the county in which the alleged offense occurred. Indictable offenses are punishable by possible state prison terms. In some instances, lab reports can make a difference in the degree of the crime charged.

What are some examples of items that are tested by the lab? A common example of a lab report is one in which drugs are tested. Many other items can be tested as well. Semen, saliva, hair, and fibers are some other examples of what can be tested.  For instance, if the lab report shows that there was cocaine or another drug in the paraphernalia you had when you were arrested, the state can charge you with a third degree crime for cocaine possession.

Drugs Cases Involving Lab Reports in Edison and Other Middlesex County Towns

As discussed above, a common example of a lab report is one used to prove drug charges. It is better understood by way of example. Let us say that the police suspect Donna Dealer of dealing heroin. The police need to catch Donna Dealer so they ask a known drug user, Sally Snitch, to “buy” drugs from Donna Dealer. Sally Snitch contacts Donna and asks if she has 7 bags of heroin to buy. Donna says yes and Sally goes to Donna’s home and purchases 7 bags of heroin. The police watch as Sally goes to Donna’s house and purchases heroin. The police watch as Sally walks back and meets them at a pre-arranged location. Sally Snitch hands the police 7 bags of suspected heroin.

The police then take the drugs, log it into an evidence locker, and then make a report about the transaction. At some point an officer removes the item from the locker and drives it to the state police lab. The officer drops off the 7 bags and the state police take the bags and generate a receipt that the evidence was received. Sometime thereafter, a scientist from the lab takes the samples of drugs, weighs them, and tests them (usually just a portion) to determine if they are an illegal substance, a narcotic, or not a prohibited substance. The lab will then generate a report that clearly establishes what the substance was or was not and the weight of the item and the type of test that was implemented.

How is the Lab Report Used to Prove the Charges Against Me in Monroe?

In the example of Donna Dealer, the lab would have received the drugs and performed tests to determine the nature of the substance. The report will show what items were taken and what it tested positive for. In New Jersey, some State Police Labs appear to be experiencing a back log. You may go to court and be asked to resolve the case before receiving a lab report. You should talk to your attorney to decide whether it is advisable to plead without a lab report. In some instances the state may be willing to give a better deal without the lab report. Your attorney can help you determine how best to handle the case.

The State, at a trial, has the obligation to prove that, what you had on you, or what Donna Dealer sold was an illegal substance. Only the lab report will establish this. Your attorney may require the lab analyst to testify in court and he or she can ask questions of the scientist. He will also look at the lab to make sure that all procedures were followed and the substance is what it was purported to be.

Want to Fight the Lab Report in Your Middlesex County Case?

Sometimes the weight of drugs can result in higher degree crimes in which there is a presumption of incarceration. It is important that an experienced attorney review the lab reports to look for discrepancies or lack of proper procedure. Our lawyers will also review the lab to see if it does not prove what the state is alleging. For instance, if you are charged with a sex crime, maybe the state said that the victim said that your semen is on her blanket. The blanket is taken to the lab and the lab report states that the semen does not match. We obtain this report and use it to help you.

If you have a case that involves a lab report, you need an attorney that understands proper criminal procedure and how to use lab reports to your advantage in court. For additional information about fighting criminal charges with lab reports and other good strategies, call us today to discuss how we can be of help. Our Middlesex County criminal defense attorneys are available 24/7 and we provide free consultations. Call our local office in Edison at (732) 659-9600 now.

With more than a decade of experience defending clients against criminal charges, founding partner William A. Proetta has successfully handled and tried thousands of cases, from DWI to murder. As a New Jersey native, he has focused his career on helping people in the area where he grew up, serving Middlesex, Ocean, Hudson, and Union counties.