If my son was stopped for a seatbelt violation and then the officer decided to search my car and found cocaine, can he be charged and they didn’t arrest him or charge him that day?

They did not charge him for the cocaine and told him it was his lucky day but gave him a ticket for the seatbelt. 5 months later he was arrested by the US Marshalls for those drugs.

Asked on September 7, 2015 under Criminal Law, Ohio


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Yes, there is no requirement that someone be charged the day or right after the drugs were found, or that the charge or arrest be by the same law enforcement agency. Five months is well within the time frame for bringing criminal charges, so based on what you write, the authorities could arrest him months later for this. However, it's possible that the search was not proper--a seatbelt violation does not necessarily, without more, lead to the right to generally search the car--so it may be that the search can be surpressed and the drugs thrown out as evidence you and your son should speak with a criminal defense attorney, not just generally anytime you are charged with drugs, you should get a lawyer but specifically about the facts of the search.

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