Fresno Drug Defense Attorney | Possesion of Narcotics | Methamphetamine | Cocaine | Heroin | Marijuana

It would seem simple to say, but an important aspect of defending a drug possession or narcotic possession criminal allegation is attacking the identification of a drug.  Identification is not as simple as one might suspect. Simply looking at a drug may be enough for a user on the street, it just doesn't make sense to have it sent in for laboratory testing, as it could cause a person to be arrested.  Drug dealers have the underhand, and have for may years sold fake drugs, diluted or stomped on versions of drugs, or look-alike type of substances that are not even drugs.

However, the court of law requires the prosecution to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt.  This means they will sent it in to be analyzed by laboratories, and ask the individual to state their opinion on where it was an illegal substance.  However, there is more to identification than one would believe.  Machines, chemicals, interpretations, and methods all come into question.

If you are going to hire an attorney to defend you against a narcotics possession case, and the suspected illegal substance has been tested by a lab, you should hire an attorney that is qualified to cross examine the person, the human being, who performed the testing and is stating their opinion and the basis on which they formed it to the court, and/or jury in your case.

Jonathan Rooker is at the forefront of attorneys who believe science is important, in fact, vital for an effective defense of a client in any case that involves or potentially involves the use of science by the prosecution and/or defense.  Jonathan has completed Mastering Scientific Evidence Seminar in New Orleans in March of 2014.  He has also completed the Basic Reserve Police Academy Level III.  Jonathan has traveled to Chicago's Prestigious Axion Laboratories and completed classroom and practical Laboratory training in Gas Chromatography and Solid Drug Identification. These Courses account for half the requirements to become a designated as a "Lawyer-Scientist" by the American Chemical Society, the highest f He is nearly Completed his course work for a Masters Degree in Forensic Toxicology.  As of today's date there are only 18 American Chemical Society Chemistry and Law Division Lawyer Scientists in the Nation.  There is only one listed in California.  Jonathan expects to complete this exceptional achievement within the 2015 calendar year!

How do they identify drug?

There are several methods.  The scientific working group for seized drugs identification headed by the DEA has listed various methods as acceptable, and classified them according to the value.  Class A is the best, then B, then Class C.

Class A:

1. Infrared Spectroscopy

2. Mass Spectrometry

3. Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy

4. Raman Spectroscopy

5. X-ray Diffractometry

Class B:

1. Capillary Electrohoresis

2. Gas Chromatography

3. Ion Mobility Spectrometry

4. Liquid Chromatography

5. Microcrystalline Tests

6. Pharmaceutical Identifiers

7. Thin Layer Chromatography

8. Macroscopic Examination / Microscopic Examination

Class C:

1. Color Tests

2. Fluorescence Spectroscopy

3. Immunoassay

4. Melting Point

5. Ultraviolet Spectroscopy

It stands to reason that there are multiple tests that should be performed before we decide we are dealing with a drug of any sort, especially if it is an illegal substance and a person's freedom and liberty is involved.  Often, the labs just send back non-specific tests such as immunoassay test results and claim they found a drug.  Fact is, the chemical process is not unique for any drug or substance, it merely involves a persons interpretation of a color that is or is not present after adding a chemical to an unknown substance.  Even more specific tests, such as infrared Spectroscopy or Mass Spectrometry need to be reviewed by a qualified defense attorney to see if there was a miss-identification of the substance, which can easily occur.  Lab protocols, methods, and human error are all possibilities. According to SWGDRUG, no single test, and as many as 3 separate tests may be needed before the presence of a substance is confirmed.


There are several methods used to attempt to identify whether or not a suspect substance is a controlled substance or not.  Weight is important in most cases, therefore the substance is placed on a scale to determine the weight.  This is not as simple as one might suspect.  Removing a substance from its packaging can present issues of both loss of substance, and contamination within the laboratory.  Contamination from a prior substance may also be present, and later have an effect on testing conducted thereafter.

Microscopic Examination can also be used.  This is common with Marijuana and Cannabinoids to see if THC is present and/or the composition of the structure. Any Drug Crime Defense Attorney should posses the knowledge, skill, and education to properly cross examine a states expert as to the identification of a possible controlled substance by a microscopic Examination.

Microchemical Color Tests, commonly performed using kits provided in pre-packaged kits such as NIK Kits are used.  However, the process can be be inexact, as the chemical process to produce a color is dependent on many factors come into play before a proper identification of the a controlled substance can be made.  Even then, the identification is just a presumptive, and a confirmation will be needed before any appreciable level of certainty can be ascertained.  There are also human factors such as contamination, interpretation of color, and bias.

Thin Layer Chromatography is another test used to identify substances that may be suspected of being an illegal narcotic.  Thin Layer Chromatography involves putting a small amount of a substance into a vial with an extraction substance, such as Methanol.  Then, using a small amount for testing.

Melting Point Identification is a fairly broad method.  It simply heats up a substance to see what temperature a substance melts at.  Substances melt at specific temperatures, but specific temperatures may not be specific melting points for substance.  More than one substance may melt at any specific temperature, making such an identification subject to mistaken identification.

There are also several methods which use instruments to identify potential controlled substances. Gas Chromatography combined with Mass Spectrometry is one of the most specific, when done properly.  Gas Chromatography involves separating molecules, or organic volatile substances. This is performed using a chromatograph.  The substance is identified by its particular elution time.  The molecules that are separated are then weighed by Mass Spectrometry, which measures the weight of each molecule and its fragments.  An identification can then be made with some degree of certainty.  Flame Ionizaton Detectors can also be used to measure the substances as it exits the chromatograph.  Other methods such as High Performance Liquid Chromatography or Liquid Chromatography with a  tandem Mass Spectrometry are also used.  A separate type of test is the Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) which identifies how infrared light waves react to a substance.

Presumptive vs. Confirmatory Tests:

What are presumptive tests and why are they called presumptive?

A presumptive test is a test that is sensitive, in that it can rule out the presence of a substance by failing to react or show its presence, however, it can not identify the presence of a substance.  They are useful for narrowing down what substances or classes of substances may be involved in a suspected drug case.  They are prone to false positive identifications which occur more often than some scientists or lab techs would like to admit.  They are also prone to contamination as well.  For instance the cocaine molecule is very small, and highly likely to contaminate any area where a bag is emptied into a scale for measurement of weight. Other presumptive tests are Microchemical color test, TLC, Microscopic, FID, Melting point and Cobalt Thiocyanate.

In particular Cobalt Thiocyanate turns blue with cocaine, as well as lidocaine, Acetaminophen, and Dephenhydramine.  Imagine being arrested and charged with a possession of Cocaine when in fact you only had Tylenol?  Using the Cobalt Thiocyanate test, that would likely occur.  Which is the reason confirmation of a positive is needed to have significant value in identification of an unknown substance as a controlled substance or illegal drugs.

There are certain tests that are commonly used in combination.

The Color Tests along with GC/MS.

Color Tests and FTIR



Pharmaceutical ID and GC/MS

Microscopic, Color, and GC/MS



These are done in order to confirm or disprove the presence of a controlled substance, narcotic, or illegal drug.

Fresno DUI Attorney | Madera DUI Attorney If you've been cited, you need to know what to do next. Help your attorney help you, contact me as soon as possible

Glass chess

Fresno DUI Lawyer Jonathan Rooker: Fresno area law enforcement agencies have some of the strictest DUI enforcement policies in the Nation. The first decision an officer makes during the DUI enforcement is the decision to stop the vehicle. It may be a driving pattern, maintenance infraction, tinted windows, or other issues the lead the officer to make that decision. The next decision is whether to have the driver exit the vehicle and conduct a DUI investigation. Factors include odor or alcohol, red watery eyes, and slurred speech. Timely stopping, parking, and fumbling with a license or insurance paperwork, all influence the officers decision to continue the investigation. Once outside the vehicle the subject may sway or have trouble following directions. At the conclusion of the third stage, the officer decides if there is probable cause for an arrest. If you are arrested, there are steps you should take on your own behalf. It is important for anyone cited for DUI to contact the DMV within 10 days to preserve their right to an Admin Per Se Hearing in front of a DMV officer. Failure to contact the DMV within 10 days may result in the suspension of your driving privilege. Remember, the officer arrests at probable cause, but it takes proof beyond a reasonable doubt to convict. If the officer does their job right, a large percentage of the people should be found not guilty.

Fresno Criminal Defense Attorney: Sometimes good people need help during tough times

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Fresno & Madera Criminal Defense Lawyer Jonathan Rooker: Domestic Violence (DV) charges, punishments, and your rights is something you need to understand if you've been accused. DV charges can result in a sentence of probation, jail, and/or prison. DV can be charged under various sections including PC 243(E) or the more serious PC 273.5 Felony (DV) accusation. Many convictions result in being sentenced to a 52-week program, referred to as the Batterers Treatment Program (BTP). The right to own, possess, or use a Firearms, a serious issue for many people who grew up in the rural valley hunting, fishing, and target shooting can be lost forever. While Judges routinely advise those convicted of misdemeanor Domestic Violence that they will be prohibited from owning firearms for 10-years, the Federal Government will preclude gun ownership for the remainder of the persons life if they are convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence. It is important that the court knows you are a law abiding, upstanding, and productive member of society. Don't let an accusation turn into a lifetime of being stigmatized as a criminal.

"Criminal defense is about helping good people, that is what I do." Jonathan Rooker


Experienced Fresno and Madera County Criminal Defense Attorney Jonathan Rooker understands the needs of each client are quite unique to each individual client. Some clients are looking to keep their drivers license, others are looking to avoid long periods of incarceration. Many times pride and principles are cited for the client's motivation to achieve a particular resolution to their case. Many clients just want to put their life, family, and career back together. It is the responsibility of the defense attorney to coordinate and effective defense for the benefit of the client. It is essential that I provide the best defense for the individual person and their specifically tailored needs in life. I will help you by building the best defense that the facts allow. One important aspect of hiring a private attorney is the time they spend listening to your needs, and working to obtain an effective resolution under the circumstances. When these problems arise, it's time to reach out for a helping hand. I handle criminal defense cases on a daily basis, helping people with their issues. Let me help you.