If you were sentenced to probation for a crime in New Jersey, there is a good chance you will be required to undergo drug testing as one of the terms of your probation.  Drug testing will almost certainly be ordered if you were convicted of a drug possession or drug use crime, but it may also be ordered if your crime was unrelated to drugs or you are suspected to be a drug user.  People facing drug testing as part of probation in New Jersey often have questions about how this testing works, why it’s used, who does the tests, and what happens if you fail a drug test.  The Atlantic City probation violation lawyers at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych explain.

Why Do They Do Drug Testing for Probation?

Probation is not a get out of jail free card.  While you are on probation, you might be free, but you are still under intense scrutiny and supervision.  While on probation, you cannot commit any additional crimes – drug crimes or otherwise.  If you do, your probation can be revoked, and you can be sent straight to jail.  Moreover, probation is meant to be rehabilitative – meaning that it is supposed to help you avoid crime and problems that lead to criminal activity.  One of the biggest issues that leads to crime in peoples’ lives is drug use, so probation is often used as a tool to distance people from drugs.  That’s where drug testing comes in.

If you are on probation, you cannot commit additional crimes.  Drug possession and use of illegal drugs are crimes, so any evidence that you used drugs is evidence that you had to have possessed those drugs, which is in turn evidence that you violated probation.  Drug testing is used, in part, to verify that you are not violating the terms of probation by committing any further crimes.  To avoid that train of logic, courts often set it as an independent term that you must pass all drug tests, just to clarify the importance of not using illegal drugs while on probation.

For many, the courts attempt to keep people off drugs by making it a violation of probation to use them.  This can be done as part of the court’s goal to help get people back on the right track, and it might be seen as “good for you” to have strict penalties for drug use, like a probation violation and a return to jail.

Who Tests for Drugs During Probation?

Typically, drug testing is performed by the probation department.  Probation officers work for the court to help supervise probationers and report their compliance back to the court.  These officers will produce reports for the court on your progress and tell the court whether you’ve missed check-ins, failed to report an address change, lost your job, or committed additional crimes while on probation.

Usually, your probation officer does the collection for drug testing.  This might be done directly by the officer or under their direct supervision with a drug testing agency or company doing the actual collection.  The collected specimen will usually be sent to a lab for testing.  This lab might be part of the government’s forensics department, or it could be an independent lab under contract by the government.

What Type of Drug Testing is Used on Probation in NJ?

Typically, probation officers use urine testing for drug screening during probation.  This testing us usually cheap and effective and can be done with little effort: the specimen is collected, sealed, and sent to the lab for testing.

Is Probation Drug Testing Scheduled or Random in New Jersey?

In many probation cases, drug testing will be both scheduled and random.  If you have a court date for your case, your probation officer will usually get a urine sample before court so they have more evidence to show the court whether you are complying or not.  In some cases, the test will be done a few days before just in case there are problems, and then you can be tested again on the day of the hearing.  Drug testing might also be scheduled at other times.

Drug testing can also be random.  This helps catch people off guard so that they do not have time to prepare for the test by stopping drug use or trying to obtain another urine sample to pass off as their own.  Note that using someone else’s clean urine or otherwise providing a false sample is likely a violation of your probation, but random drug testing often makes this kind of deceit impractical.

Drugs can often “stay in your system” for many days.  Scheduled drug testing is often arranged such that there are few – if any – “gaps” in the testing.  This means that your probation officer will likely not let you go without testing for a long enough period that you could potentially use drugs and then let it leave your system before your next test.  Additionally, if the probation officer has evidence of when you last used, they will usually test in such a manner as to help confirm that the drug use did take place during that window of time.

Call Our New Jersey Probation Violation Lawyers

If you are on probation and undergoing drug testing, it is vital to make sure that you do not use drugs and that you can produce a clean test every time.  If you have a “dirty” or “hot” test and are found to have used drugs, your probation officer, the prosecutor, and the judge might move for a probation violation.  This could send you straight back to jail, so it is absolutely vital to have a lawyer in your corner.  Our Atlantic City criminal defense lawyers may be able to fight the probation violation and work to keep you out of jail.  Call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych today at (609) 616-4956 to schedule a free legal consultation on your case.