One would hope that police will thoroughly investigate the facts and circumstances surrounding an alleged criminal incident before making an arrest. Unfortunately, mistakes made by police can result in false accusations of a crime.

Recently, a Brooklyn man has filed a lawsuit in federal court against three officers of the New York Police Department after they mistakenly arrested him for possession of methamphetamines, which were later determined to be Jolly Rancher candies. The man filed a civil rights lawsuit against the three officers the police department, the city of Brooklyn and the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office. The man was arrested for drug possession after he left a candy shop. The police also arrested two of the man’s friends, one for drug possession and the other for interfering with an arrest when he shouted that the so-called drugs were actually candies. The police alleged that field tests had proved the candies to be narcotics, but further tests revealed the candies to be merely candy and not methamphetamines. The lawsuit alleges that despite this, the charges were not dropped until several months later. The man is seeking an unspecified amount of damages.

This case illustrates the fact that the police can make errors during the arrests, and they can mistake typical, everyday items for drugs. This leads to mistaken arrests of those innocent of any crimes. The fact that someone can be arrested for having candy if the police mistake the candy for illegal drugs highlights the importance of a vigorous criminal defense for defendants.

Often, drug dealers will disguise illicit drugs as everyday products, such as candy in order to evade detection. Because of this, the authenticity of drugs in some cases can only be determined with testing. It is in this context that the police’s mistake in this case occurred.

Anyone accused of drug trafficking or drug possession is entitled to a presumption of innocence until guilt is proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Defendants in such cases have the constitutional right to question witnesses, challenge the admissibility of the evidence and dispute the constitutionality of the charges. Those accused by the state of drug charges have the legal ability to fight for their freedom from incarceration and clear their name of the charges.

Source: Fox News, “Man suing NYPD after candy leads to arrest on drug charges,” Oct. 21, 2013.