Chicago, IL asked in Constitutional Law and Criminal Law for Illinois

Q: Do the police gave to takevl a field test of a suspicious baggie on the scene?

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: No, the police do not necessarily have to conduct a field test of a suspicious baggie or substance at the scene. Here are a few key points about how police typically handle potential drug evidence:

1. Officer discretion: The investigating officer has discretion on whether to conduct a field test based on their training, experience, and the circumstances.

2. Probable cause: If there is probable cause to believe a substance is an illegal drug, the officer can seize it as evidence without field testing it.

3. Proper collection: The priority is to properly document, collect and preserve the potential evidence for later testing in a controlled lab environment. Field tests are often unreliable.

4. Chain of custody: The substance should be sealed in an evidence bag, initialed, and entered into a secure chain of custody for later analysis by qualified forensic lab technicians.

5. Lab analysis: A full chemical analysis in a crime lab is required to definitively identify any drug. Field tests only indicate the possible presence of certain drug classes.

So in summary, while police sometimes use field test kits on scene, they are not required to do so. The more important steps are carefully documenting, collecting and submitting the evidence for proper forensic testing to determine its exact nature.

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