One test enough to uphold methamphetamine conviction

April 7, 2015

Despite a second test not being conducted to confirm the presumptive findings, a Cass County man’s drug conviction was upheld after the Indiana Court of Appeals found the state had established reliability of the test performed.

Glenn Sciaraffa challenged his conviction for methamphetamine, in part, on the grounds the trial court abused its discretion when it admitted into evidence the presumptive test results that indicated a milky, oily residue in a glass bottle was methamphetamine.

He argued the test results should not have been presented to the jury because the Indiana State Police forensic scientist failed to explain the scientific principles and standards of a presumptively positive test. To support his argument, Sciaraffa pointed to Doolin v. State, 970 N.E.2d 785, 787 (Ind. Ct. App. 2012) There, the Court of Appeals found the state did not provide any foundational evidence because at trial the officer did not identify the field test by name or talk about its reliability.   

However, in Sciaraffa’s case, the Court of Appeals was not persuaded by Sciaraffa’s equation of the forensic scientist’s chemical test with the quick, on-the-scene field test performed by a law enforcement officer.

Although the scientist was required to perform at least two tests to confirm the presumptive results, the Court of Appeals noted there wasn’t enough substance left in the glass bottled to run the second test. And, the appellate court continued, the mere fact the scientist did not perform a confirmatory test does not invalidate the test or inhibit its admissibility.

The Court of Appeals found no fundamental error occurred during the admission of the presumptive positive test for methamphetamine in Glenn Sciaraffa v. State of Indiana, 09A04-1410-CR-470.




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