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NCJ Number: 210456 Find in a Library
Title: Keep Justice in the Balance: Maintaining Control Standard Weights
Journal: Forensic Magazine  Volume:2  Issue:3  Dated:June/July 2005  Pages:17-19
Author(s): Joseph Moran
Date Published: June 2005
Page Count: 3
Type: Instructional Material
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article addresses the legal challenges facing prosecutors in proving beyond a reasonable doubt the weight of an illegal substance, which determines degrees of offenses in narcotics cases and consequently the severity of sentencing for a convicted defendant.
Abstract: It is the responsibility of the forensic scientist who has established the weight of the substance at issue to convince the court beyond a reasonable doubt that the procedure used to measure the weight is consistently accurate. This article presents a hypothetical case of the questions likely to be posed by a defense attorney to a forensic scientist testifying in court about how the weight of an illegal substance was determined. This hypothetical case is presented under the relevant laws of New Jersey, which sets the possession of 5g or more of hashish as the measure for charging the defendant as a drug dealer. Possession of less than 5g is a lesser offense of possession for personal use. In the hypothetical case, the forensic laboratory has determined that the weight of the hashish at issue is 5.0020g plus or minus 0.0014g. The defense attorney, in an effort to get the case heard in a lower court, is questioning the forensic scientist who weighed the hashish about the procedure used. This article poses the questions asked by the defense attorney and the answers given by the forensic scientist. 1 figure
Main Term(s): Police policies and procedures
Index Term(s): Drug law enforcement; Drug law offenses; Drug laws; Evidence; Expert witnesses; Forensic science training; New Jersey
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