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What is the New Jersey police 'Office of Forensic Sciences'?


In many criminal cases in New Jersey law enforcement officials will seize evidence for use at trial. This is almost universal in cases involving drug crimes, as there is one particular piece of evidence that will be of paramount importance: the alleged drug itself. It doesn't matter if the illegal drug that is seized is heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine or marijuana. To prove their case, prosecutors will have to refer to the actual substance at trial. But, how do law enforcement officials and prosecutors know what they are dealing with?

The New Jersey State Police has an Office of Forensic Sciences. This section of the police department receives and tests the substances that are seized by officers during the course of a criminal investigation. Within this section of the police department there are seven locations throughout the state. The different laboratories analyze such evidence as illegal drugs, DNA evidence and toxicology, among other things.

Anyone who is facing a drug charge in New Jersey is likely to have the Office of Forensic Sciences involved in their case at some point. The people who work at these laboratories handle the evidence they receive cautiously, and with good reason -- any defect in the chain of custody or the misidentification of a certain item of evidence could cause a major problem in a criminal case.

From the criminal defense perspective, it can seem hard to overcome the knowledge and expertise of the people who are working in the Office of Forensic Sciences. However, one approach is to analyze the purported evidence with the same amount of scrutiny that these experts do. If there appears to be a problem with the way the evidence was handled, labeled or documented, there could be a chance to get the evidence suppressed prior to a criminal trial.

Source: njsp.org, "Office of Forensic Sciences," Accessed March 29, 2015

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