General Question

buster's avatar

How long can police wait to charge you after finding contraband?

Asked by buster (10216 points ) July 15th, 2010

Okay lets say the police search your car or home and find drugs or other contraband. They issue a receipt of all the contraband they confiscated but don’t arrest you or charge you with any crime at that time. They just take the contraband and leave. How long can they wait before they issue an arrest warrant for the contraband?

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9 Answers

chyna's avatar

I don’t know the answer to this, but I would think it would have to be when they found it. It wouldn’t be fair to keep someone on pins and needles waiting to be arrested, but no one said the police were always fair.

Jude's avatar

@chyna They need to get a receipt from you. Most people don’t have a receipt (for the meds) on them when they’re pulled over. My guess is the person will have to get a receipt (if there is indeed a receipt (stating that they have a prescription for that medication (including amount) and bring it up to the police station. If you don’t have a receipt for the drugs that you had on you (illegal possession), then you’re screwed.

I know someone who went through this about a week ago.

jazmina88's avatar

sometimes they just take the goodies and run…...

chyna's avatar

@jjmah Things have really changed since I was young and people I knew had been caught with contraband. :-)

tedd's avatar

If they didn’t arrest you at the time of confiscation, you will only be arrested if later in court the judge orders it.

Most likely, it was such a small amount/you weren’t a flight risk or danger to society that the police deemed it not worth their time to take you down town and hold you until your first court date, and simply found it much easier to issue you a summons.

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

This seems like a hypothetical case to me. If they come to your home with a search warrant, and they find what they’re looking for, they’re not likely to leave you behind. If they came in without a warrant, and you do not consent to the search, well, then, maybe they can’t charge you with anything even if they find the stuff.

Now, if they take something like a computer, and they want to search it for illegal files, then they might not arrest you right away. But they will not have actually found anything illegal at that point in time. The same thing goes for any kind of forensic evidence that has to be evaluated in a laboratory.

In any case, there is no time limit that I know of, if you’re just a suspect in a case. Sometimes people are arrested years or decades after the start of an investigation. It’s only after you’ve been arrested that they have a time limit before habeas corpus applies.

wgallios's avatar

Do you need to appear? If so wait for the court date.

if not, call the court house and see if there are any warrants in your name, or if there are any court dates. If nothing comes up, you’re probably good.

Kayak8's avatar

It will likely depend on the statute of limitations in your state or locality. Cops could pull over a car with three people in it and drugs/alcohol and take the contraband while they work to build the case to press charges (i.e., identify the possessor of the goods in question). Each state has a different statute of limitations on pressing charges for various crimes—these amounts of time are usually measured in years (except for murder which has no statute of limitations).

john65pennington's avatar

This procedure usually involves taking your case before a Grand Jury for an indictment. time is on the prosecutors side. once indicted, you will be arrested. in actuality, this is the best procedure for making a rock-solid case for criminal court. 12 men and women, on the Grand Jury, agree with the actions taken by the police. this is very convincing in criminal court.

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