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New device identifies drugs as drug charges on rise in Florida

Police said crimes involving drugs are growing exponentially in one Florida county. Back in 2011 in Martin County, 248 arrests on drug charges occurred, while the figure last year was 817. A new device is now being used to help address what police are calling a big drug problem in the Sunshine State, but this type of device may engender problems in terms of search and seizure laws.

The new device is about the size of a cellphone. It helps police to determine exactly what they are seeing drug-wise on the streets. The device is called the True Narc system and is valued at $20,000. This scanning device works by helping law enforcement to instantly identify various controlled substances.

While an old test kit requires a sample of a drug to be cut, detectives using the True Narc do not have to touch any drugs at all. This allows police to preserve 100 percent of their evidence. Also, the device uses a laser to identify a substance, which means a drug does not have to be sent to a crime lab, where getting an answer about its identity could take weeks or even months. The device can instantly tell the difference between drugs that appear to be similar and can even be updated as police discover new illegal synthetic compounds.

If a person is arrested on drug charges in Florida as a result of police's using such a scanning device, one question that his or her criminal defense may raise is whether due process was followed when the arrest was made. In addition, the criminal defense may question the actual effectiveness of the device when defending the individual facing drug charges. Prosecutors at trial have to prove the accused person's charges by relevant and appropriate evidence; otherwise, a criminal conviction cannot be handed down against the person. Instead of going to trial, a person may decide -- alongside legal counsel -- to pursue negotiations for a plea deal. If available, this might lead to reduced charges or a lighter sentence from the court for the accused.

Source: wflx.com, "Drug arrests triple in Martin County in five years; Sheriff says drug problem is growing", Feb. 17, 2016

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