It has been reported this week that the Indiana State Police has five devices called “TruNarc” that are designed to recognize approximately 370 types of drugs. A sergeant with the Indiana State Police asserted that the device is the future of drug recognition and is a “big deal.” Id. The device operates by shooting a laser through the suspected controlled substance. The manufacturer boasts that it can accurately determine a suspected controlled substance even when the laser is fired though clear containers like bags, wax paper, glass vials, etc.
However, when determining whether scientific evidence is admissible in court, the Indiana appellate courts have determined that there are several factors that should be considered. Kubsch v. State, 784 N.E.2d 905, 921 (Ind. 2003). For one, the trial court must decide whether that the methodology of the science is valid. Id. Factors to be considered include whether the theory or technique can be and has been tested, whether the theory has been subjected to peer review and publication, whether there is a known or potential error rate, and whether the theory has been generally accepted within the relevant field of study. Id.
There appears to be no Indiana case that has address the admissibility of a determination or finding by a TruNarc device that a drug or substance is what it says it is. While it may be a new tool and a big deal for law enforcement, there appear to be unanswered questions about whether it is, in fact, a “big deal” for the prosecution of criminal cases inside the courtroom.
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