If you are stopped and the police confiscate a substance but then they let you go, if it turns out to be an illegal substance, can they still charge you?

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If you are stopped and the police confiscate a substance but then they let you go, if it turns out to be an illegal substance, can they still charge you?

I was stopped recently and the police found some questionable substances in my vehicle. They assumed it was heroin but said they were unsure. They took half of the substance and gave me the other half back and said they were going to have it analyzed at the lab and call me to decide further action. If this substance was found to be heroin, could they pursue criminal charges against me at a later date?

Asked on September 7, 2012 under Criminal Law, Louisiana

Answers:

B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

It certainly is odd for an officer to only take one-half of a suspected controlled substance.  Usually, if officers are not sure, they will take the whole amount and submit it to the lab.  If the substance tests positive for a controlled substance, then they seek a warrant for the person's arrest.  If the substance tests negative, then they do not file the charges.  This is not a highly common practice, but it does happen on occassion.  They can pursue charges later as long as they can prove that you were the one in possession and can show a proper chain of custody for the controlled substance.


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