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How long can law enforcement hold me?

On Behalf of | Jul 14, 2021 | Criminal Defense |

Once an officer places you under arrest, it is common for your next thoughts to turn to getting out of custody. Nobody wants to be stuck in a jail cell for too long if they do not have to be.

According to FindLaw, you have a right to not languish in jail for too long due to the Constitution’s guarantee of a speedy trial, which simply means prosecutors cannot delay charging you with a crime. The general rule is law enforcement can hold you for 72 hours without formally charging you with a crime.

In the hands of the prosecutor

Your fate, once you are under arrest, is in the hands of the prosecutor. Officers cannot charge you with a crime. The prosecutor must present charges to the court. You will have a hearing at which the court makes you aware of any charges.

If the prosecutor does not bring charges, which can happen for a variety of reasons, then officers will release you from jail. Keep in mind, this usually does not mean you are off free and clear. The prosecutor can later decide to bring charges.

Holding does not include bail

The rule about holding you for 72 hours only applies as long as you do not have formal charges against you. Once the prosecutor brings charges, the court will often assign you bail. If you cannot pay it, then you will remain behind bars until your next hearing. It is possible you can remain in jail until your trial is complete. At that time, if the judge or jury finds you not guilty, then officers will release you from incarceration.