Law enforcement agencies in New York and around the country must often determine whether an unknown substance is illicit. Dues to the sheer volume of products they must examine, authorities sometimes use very inexpensive testing kits to check substances on the spot. These inexpensive kits, which often cost as little as $2, are notorious for occasionally creating false positives. As a result, a number of people have faced unwarranted charges for drug possession or drug distribution.

Common substances that are often mistaken for drugs include baking soda, candy and vitamins. In a study performed by Florida’s Department of Law Enforcement, 21 percent of all substances that originally tested positive for meth later obtained a negative rating after more extensive crime lab testing. Indeed, many who are falsely accused must often pay for more stringent tests before their drug trafficking charges are dropped.

Individuals can never be too careful, and are advised to keep products in their original packaging whenever possible to avoid appearing suspicious. This is especially true of baking soda, which can quickly gain the attention of law enforcement when placed in baggies. For example, one couple in Arkansas was arrested for drug possession when baking soda in their truck tested positive as cocaine. The couple spent the next two months clearing their names.

Those who are falsely accused may face jail time, the loss of property, and a damaged reputation. While the matter can sometimes be resolved with more extensive testing, an attorney who is familiar with drug crimes may be able to speed up the process and help people restore their innocence.