Im in the Air Force and just received an Article 15 (non judicial) for smoking the substance spice. What to do?

Asked over 3 years ago - Great Falls, MT

There was no evidence of this action other than my own words admitting to smoking it. The substance isn't illegal and when I inhaled it, it was only twice before deployment. I never signed anything like the salvia letters saying it's illegal within the Air Force. I know a rollback is coming up, and if I could I would rather stay in than be kicked out. What do you think will be the punishment? How should I go about deal with this? Accept or take it to the court martial?

All help is greatly appreciated
Thanks!

Attorney answers (3)

  1. Stephen Hayes Carpenter JR

    Pro

    Contributor Level 9

    Answered . First and foremost, I strongly urge you to speak with a military or civilian defense lawyer about your various options, as "every" case if different, and the below information is meant for general consumption, and it not offered as legal advise.

    The prosecution of ""spice"" cases, as one prominent forensic toxicologist recently told me, presents a “bit of a moving target.” Indeed, currently there are no scientifically reliable methods to test for spice. The difficulty is tied to its contents. Spice is comprised of a mixture of leaves, barks and seeds that are not listed on any controlled substance schedule. Moreover, the psychological effects of spice are caused by a synthetic marijuana substance that is sprayed onto the mixture. This synthetic spray is very hard to test for, and in rare case where the Government has been able to isolate the metabolite, any prosecutorial benefit has been short-lived because spice manufactures have simply adjusted fire, and changed the synthetic composition of its spray, rendering the drug undetectable in future urine tests.

    Generally, drug cases involve highly complex areas of overlapping professional disciplines, including forensic chemistry, forensic biology and forensic science. DoD labs test about 60,000 urine samples per month, of these only a small percentage test positive for a controlled substance. Tragically, in some cases false positives occur, and, in most of these cases military careers come to a premature end.

    In these cases, military personnel are often resigned to one seemingly unassailable fact: “a lab result is a lab result, what can I possibly do about that?” Well, actually a lot. Simply understand that a particular drug test result (usually at some nanogram level) is not a “true” value it is a “mean” value. Accordingly, scientific principles called confidence intervals, statistical inferences and uncertainty differentials might in some cases be used to dispute the alleged wrongful drug use. Cross-contamination, faulty chain of custody and innocent ingestion are also powerful defenses that sound drug test results may in some cases fail to overcome.

    And finally, you cannot be convicted on your confession alone. Military Rule of Evidence (MRE) 304 states “an admission or confession of the accused may be considered as evidence against the accused on the question of guilt or innocence only if independent evidence, either direct or circumstantial, had been introduced that corroborates the essential facts admitted to justify sufficiently an inference of the truth.” Notably, other confessions that you may have uttered cannot be used to corroborate your statement. Accordingly, defense counsel must carefully consider what you allegedly confessed to, and strongly contemplate moving to suppress the confession on the grounds that the evidence, as a whole, cannot lead to your conviction if (and that is only if) its not supported by some other admissible evidence.

    Again, I strongly urge you to speak with a lawyer about your options, as every case is different, and this information is NOT offered as legal advice. Good luck.

  2. Stephen Hayes Carpenter JR

    Pro

    Contributor Level 9

    Answered . First and foremost, I strongly urge you to speak with a military or civilian defense lawyer about your various options, as "every" case is different, and the below information is meant for general consumption, and it's not offered as legal advice.

    The prosecution of ""spice"" cases, as one prominent forensic toxicologist recently told me, presents a “bit of a moving target.” Indeed, currently there are no scientifically reliable methods to test for spice. The difficulty is tied to its contents. Spice is comprised of a mixture of leaves, barks and seeds that are not listed on any controlled substance schedule. Moreover, the psychological effects of spice are caused by a synthetic marijuana substance that is sprayed onto the mixture. This synthetic spray is very hard to test for, and in rare case where the Government has been able to isolate the metabolite, any prosecutorial benefit has been short-lived because spice manufactures have simply adjusted fire, and changed the synthetic composition of its spray, rendering the drug undetectable in future urine tests.

    Generally, drug cases involve highly complex areas of overlapping professional disciplines, including forensic chemistry, forensic biology and forensic science. DoD labs test about 60,000 urine samples per month, of these only a small percentage test positive for a controlled substance. Tragically, in some cases false positives occur, and, in most of these cases military careers come to a premature end.

    In these cases, military personnel are often resigned to one seemingly unassailable fact: “a lab result is a lab result, what can I possibly do about that?” Well, actually a lot. Simply understand that a particular drug test result (usually at some nanogram level) is not a “true” value it is a “mean” value. Accordingly, scientific principles called confidence intervals, statistical inferences and uncertainty differentials might in some cases be used to dispute the alleged wrongful drug use. Cross-contamination, faulty chain of custody and innocent ingestion are also powerful defenses that sound drug test results may in some cases fail to overcome.

    And finally, you cannot be convicted on your confession alone. Military Rule of Evidence (MRE) 304 states “an admission or confession of the accused may be considered as evidence against the accused on the question of guilt or innocence only if independent evidence, either direct or circumstantial, had been introduced that corroborates the essential facts admitted to justify sufficiently an inference of the truth.” Notably, other confessions that you may have uttered cannot be used to corroborate your statement. Accordingly, defense counsel must carefully consider what you allegedly confessed to, and strongly contemplate moving to suppress the confession on the grounds that the evidence, as a whole, cannot lead to your conviction if (and that is only if) its not supported by some other admissible evidence.

    Again, I strongly urge you to speak with a lawyer about your options, as every case is different, and this information is NOT offered as legal advice. Good luck.

  3. Andrew Daniel Myers

    Contributor Level 20

    Answered . I am not a military attorney and you should seek advice from one.

    However, when I read your posting I flagged an issue on which you need to be corrected. An admission is evidence. In fact, all testimony is evidence. An admission is admissible universally, as long as not coerced, as either non-hearsay or an exception to the hearsay rule.

    I do wish you the best.

    This answer is offered for informational purposes only. It is not offered as, and does not constitute, legal advice. Laws vary widely from state to state. You should rely only on the advice given to you during a personal consultation by a local attorney who is thoroughly familiar with state laws and the area of practice in which your concern lies.

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