If you are arrested for a drug offense, the police take custody of the substance and must follow certain procedures in the inventory, testing and custody of that substance. Because drugs are not recognizable or identifiable in the same way that other property it, the police need to be able to show that the same substance they take from an offender is the exact same substance that is tested and then brought to court for trial. Where a gun is concerned, police can document the serial number, type of weapon, scratch marks, handle marks, by photograph etc. to show that it is the same. A powder substance, pills, leaves and such cannot be identified in that way. So officers must document each person that handles the substance and place it in a marked and sealed container before sending it to the crime lab to be analyzed. The crime lab must follow the same documentation procedure when opening and then testing the substance. If a case like this goes to trial, everyone who handled the substance must come in and describe their hand in the case and the lab personnel and technician must also do the same before disclosing the results. It also must be the same person that did the testing on the substance. If that person is not available to come to court and the state does not have another person re-test the substance, the charge will be dismissed. If any of the strict handling or testing procedures are not followed it can be a way have the charges dismissed.
It is also important to wait for lab results to come back on a case. It does happen where the police do a preliminary test on a substance, also called a “field test” and then when the substance is professionally tested at the lab no illegal substance is detected. Also, if the substance turns out to be baking soda, oregano etc. and you are charged with only possession there is no criminal offense and the charge will be dismissed. If the charge was delivery or intent to deliver then it will be amended to reflect a “look alike” substance where the sentencing will likely be more lenient than if a controlled substance were present.
There is also a time frame the state is dealing with when at the preliminary stage of a felony charge. If the offender is in custody at the preliminary hearing/grand jury stage of a felony drug case, the state must have a lab result on the substance within 30 days. If the offender is out on bond that time is 60 days. Keep in mind that if the offender (or their attorney) agree to continue the case that stalls the time. Often cases are dismissed simply because the lab is overwhelmed with testing and cannot keep up with the demand and a lab result is not produced in the time required of the state.