Positive drug tests are one of the most common charges young soldiers, marines, sailors and airmen face. Each service handles an allegation of single drug use differently. The Air Force, for example, has a general policy of taking airmen to court-martial for use of any drug other than marijuana. Luckily, there are effective ways to combat these allegations that may help a military member be cleared of the charges.
The unknowing or innocent ingestion of a prohibited drug may be a complete defense against UCMJ Article 112A charges of drug use. Unknowing ingestion of drugs can happen in dozens of reasonable ways. Most commonly, positive drug results come after a weekend of partying. Now, most reading this, and in the jury box immediately assume the Accused knowingly took the drug, such as cocaine. The reality is far different and certainly very troubling. The residue of prior drug use can remain in sufficient quantities on many surfaces, such as glasses, sinks, and money. It may take an amount the size of 3-4 grains of sand dissolved in a drink to result in a positive drug test.
Positive drug results may also be caused by unknown ingredients in dietary supplements or herbal remedies. The Stars and Stripes recently posted this article about the confusion over the substances contained in dietary supplements. Forensic pathologists (experts in drug test results) frequently testify about the number of seemingly legitimate substances that may contain substances that cause a positive drug test. This testimony can ultimately create sufficient reasonable doubt to secure an acquittal. If you are court-martialled for drug use in the military, you are generally entitled to a free forensic pathologist, but that alone isn’t enough. You need an attorney that knows the experts and the experience of the experts so the testimony in your case is rock-solid!
How to Beat Drug Use Charges
At the end of the day, the accused doesn’t need to present any evidence to prove innocence. In fact, the Government has a very difficult task of proving the accused knowingly used drugs and that the laboratory results are actually reliable (laboratory reliable will be the subject of future articles). However, as an experienced trial lawyer, I know the jury is often significantly more willing to acquit if the defense presents a case. If they know that the accused has been taking dietary supplements, herbal remedies, or hears about the dive-bar the accused went to, they may be willing to acquit without any evidence other than that to acquit. It is always the Government’s burden to prove knowing ingestion of drugs beyond a reasonable doubt. A military judge recently said the acquittal rate in drug cases in which the accused did not confess is about 90%.
You need the best military defense lawyer for drug cases to defend you. Your young inexperienced assigned defense counsel doesn’t know the secrets beat a drug use case in the military. Often, your drug case will be the assigned defense counsel’s very first case alone! Make sure you ask them how many cases they’ve handled similar to your case. I know the experts that present the most compelling testimony, and I know the excuses you do and DO NOT want to use. More than that, you want the best military defense counsel to actually present your case in the courtroom. When I present your case, I do so with the conviction and passion the jury needs to find you not guilty.