A new study has revealed that many state crime labs are funded by court fees levied against the citizens they help convict. As Huffington Post reports, these court fee systems call into question the impartiality of our justice system and have contributed to a rise in corruption cases—even here in Washington.
The study, conducted by Roger Koppl and Meghan Sacks, was published in Criminal Justice Ethics journal and reviews the court fee practices of several states in cases that require crime lab analysis. Surprisingly, a number of minor offenses (including DUI offenses) often result in court fees that, at least in part, go directly to funding crime labs.
Just a few of practices uncovered in the study include:
- Louisiana’s Acadiana Crime Lab receives $50 for every DWI and drug offense conviction.
- North Carolina receives $600 for any DNA tests that result in convictions.
- Illinois, Mississippi, Virginia, Kentucky and many other states charge lab fees with every drunk driving conviction.
Washington Crime Lab Fees
Here in Washington, we have a similar system: a convicted individual is charged $100 if their case involved crime lab analysis. This includes many drunk driving cases, where blood, urine, and breathalyzer tests need to be conducted and/or verified by properly trained lab technicians.
It is no surprise, then, that corruption is a serious issue all over the U.S. when it comes to these practices. In 2008, for example, a toxicology lab manager in the Washington State Patrol lab became accused of tampering with breath-alcohol testing results.
These stories—and the many others chronicled by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers—are troubling. If we continue to incentivize the scientific analysis of possible evidence against the accused, how can we truly provide justice to those who deserve it?
Have you been arrested for drunk driving? If so, I invite you to contact my firm, Dichter Law Office, PLLC, today. I have numerous times been industry-recognized for the work I have provided my clients and continue to stay well-versed in the newest policing methods and science that govern this practice area.
Trust your case to a proven Lynnwood DUI defense attorney. Call my office today to start exploring your legal options.