By law, every American citizen accused of a crime is innocent until proven guilty. A recent case involving drug charges in New York City shows just how important it is to uphold that basic tenant. A recent court case showed that two innocent people were accused of drug crimes in 2007, as a New York police officer had planted false evidence against them.

The incident occurred in early January of 2007. A young woman and her boyfriend were reportedly driving to their apartment in Coney Island when two out-of-uniform police officers approached them. Presumably, a search was executed on the couple’s vehicle, though it is probable that a search warrant was not obtained at the time.

Officers allegedly found a bag of powder in the vehicle, but the woman whom the officers accused testified that she witnessed the detective removing a bag of powder from his pocket before placing it in the vehicle. The incident ultimately lead to a bench trial against the detective, whereby he was found guilty on several counts. The judge that provided the verdict expressed “shock” over a “seeming pervasive scope of misconduct.”

The detective was found guilty of official misconduct, as well as falsifying business records and offering a false instrument for filing. Prosecutors characterized the man’s corruption as an “abuse of power.” He now faces a sentence of up to four years in prison.

Unfortunately, the false drug charges made against the young man and woman in this case do not represent an isolated incident. That is why it is so important for New Yorkers who are accused of drug crimes to fully understand their rights. Making false drug charges is serious business that can ruin people’s lives, and individuals facing drug charges deserve ample protection under the law.

Source: New York Times, “Detective Is Found Guilty of Planting Drugs,” Tim Stelloh, Nov. 1, 2011