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Virginia’s drug chemist lab is more backlogged than ever before

Virginia criminal lawyer on drug and marijuana defenee

Fairfax criminal lawyer on increasingly long delays for drugs to be tested by police, in drug felony cases.

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Virginia’s government drug chemist lab is more backlogged than ever before, as confirmed in its August 16, 2017, memorandum here  That trend does not seem like it will be reversing any time soon.

What does that mean for criminal defendants with pending drug and marijuana cases (other than simple marijuana possession, which do not always need a chemist test to prove it is marijuana)? It means that when the prosecutor is on the fence about offering a favorable plea deal in a drug case, the case may settle for a more favorable outcome before the drugs are tested. It means that delays in testing the drugs might lead to more police naturally transitioning off the force or geographically relocating during the time it takes to test the drugs, sometimes making it harder or more expensive for the prosecutor to prove the case. It means that if the trial judge agrees to reschedule a preliminary hearing to await further time to test the alleged drugs, the court might provide more favorable pretrial release conditions and bond amounts to inmates being held on no bond or who have limited assets to pay for a bond.

How do we solve this backlog of the Virginia Department of Forensic Science’s drug chemist lab? We can start by legalizing marijuana and heavily decriminalizing all other drugs. We can reduce the number of police trolling to capture defendants’ violating such laws. Let us not, however, expand the number of personnel at the state drug chemist lab.