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How long can one be held by the police without being charged?
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How long can one be held by the police without being charged?

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I have a relative who was picked up last night. The police refuse to give my family any information. They say the investigation is ongoing. The police have told us they do not have to tell us anything. They have also said that if I have my relative's lawyer contact them they will not tell the lawyer anything either. Is this legal?


Mahatma Coat
24 hrs, unless it's a Friday or you are in the south.

24 hrs

roger k
Who says they have you.

It changes from state to state, Federal law mandates 72 hours but people can be released and re arrested, then held for a longer period of time. When a person is obviously guilty they will usually be arrested on multiple charges so that bail will be high enough that a person can be held longer.

James P
Here are the answers for California.

(1) You can be held without "being charged" for up to two business days. Let me explain the whole "being charged" concept. When the police arrest someone and bring them to jail they book them on whatever offense they are believed to have committed. The actual "charging" comes from the district or city attorney. The police can choose to release the person prior to the DA filing charges if doing so serves the interest of justice.

(2) The police have no obligation to provide information on an ongoing investgiation to anyone including the family or the attorney of an arrestee. An attorney can go to the police department where the suspect is being held and request to see the arrestee. The agency must comply with such a request as soon as practicle. Still, the right to have an attorney present during questioning can only be invoked by the person being questioned. So the family, the attorney, and anyone else can demand that the police not question someone without their attorney present, but only the person being questioned can make this happen.

Hope this helps.

I think it is 48 hrs.

The person being held has a right to an attorney, and would have had the right to call one if they wanted to.

And yes his attorney needs to go down and check on his client.
He can not be refused a visit by his attorney.

No they don't have to tell anyone anything over the phone, and no they will not tell his relations anything, since it is a investigation.

Normally his attorney can force them to charge them or let them go.

24 hours.
Don't you watch TV?

after 24 hours if they don't release your relative, contact the media, they love this kind of news. Media will give alot of pressure to the police.

24 hours at the most

72hrs in most cases. The lawyer is only able to interfere if that is the wish of the detainee. He has to ask for one, but upon doing do the lawyer must be present for further questioning otherwise anything said will not be admissible in court.

48 hrs

Sherrie C
24 hours without being charged. If they are not giving you info then you don't know if he has been charged or not. Somebody needs to contact an attorney for him and the attorney needs to go make contact in person. I am a dispatcher and cannot give details of an arrest over the phone.

Jeffery C
It depends on the agency and the situation. Under the constitution of the United States an arrested person is required to be brought before a magistrate/judge as soon as possible. However, since magistrates and judges don't always workweekends and holidays, court cases have held that three/four days is not excessive if the situation so dictates. So if a police really wants to screw with someone, they arrest them Friday evening on a three day weekend.

Now if the person is just detained as in an immigration or border crossing situation, the person(s) can be held for sometime. Say a person is suspected of swallowing balloons filled with narcotics. They can be held in a hospital until nature (helped with very strong laxitives) takes its course. Until the first balloon comes out and the contents are tested postive for narcotics, the person can not be charged.

In an immigration case, the alien can be detained for quite a while until an immigration judge can hear the case. Of course the alien could voluntarily deport back to their home country and get out of immigration jail quickly.

In GITMO (US military prison in Cuba) the detainees have been held for years without formal charges. These detentions are under military law and not state or federal law.

Prisoners of war are detained indefinitely without "being charged."

Leigh P
72 hours then the suspect must be charged or released. Moreover, the suspect must be allowed to contact an attorney...HELLO miranda rights. And if I'm not mistaken Mr. C the rule of law applies to illegals as well. The police do not have to discuss anything about the case with relatives unless the suspect is a juvenile and then only with the juveniles mother/father or guardian prior to the juvenile being questioned.

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