Whether a juvenile delinquency petition accusing a youth of criminal sale and possession of a controlled substance is legally sufficient where the petition is accompanied only by the deposition of the officer involved in the "buy and bust" operation who states that the presence of the controlled substance was established by a "NIK" field test.
Yes. A deposition tending to corroborate an uncontradicted field test can provide legally sufficient evidence of the presence of a controlled substance for a juvenile delinquency petition.
Respondent allegedly sold heroin to an undercover police officer in Manhattan on the afternoon of April 15, 1996. According the officer's deposition, Respondent gave the officer four glassines in exchange for $20. The officer used the NIK field test on the substance in the glassines and determined that the substance was heroin. Respondent was taken into custody. A petition was filed in Family Court charging Respondent with juvenile delinquency for the acts of criminal sale of a controlled substance in the third and fifth degrees and criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third, fifth, and seventh degrees. The officer filed a supporting deposition with the petition. During the juvenile delinquency hearing, Respondent argued that the undercover officer's supporting deposition describing the results of the NIK field test did not establish the existence of a controlled substance, which is an element of the crimes charged in the petition. The Family Court, and later the Appellate Division, held that the deposition discussing the field test provided legally sufficient evidence of a controlled substance. The Court of Appeals affirmed.
Prepared by the liibulletin-ny Editorial Board.