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How Long Can Police Hold You?

If you or a loved one have experienced being arrested, you know how stressful, trying, and difficult it can be for an individual and his or her family. However, police can also detain individuals without making an arrest. Many people do not know how long they can legally be held in law enforcement custody. That length of time varies depending on whether or not an official arrest has been made. If you have been arrested and are in need of legal help, contact a skilled Raleigh criminal lawyer at Scharff Law Firm.

How Long Can an Arrested Person Be Held by Law Enforcement?

Depending on the severity of a crime, a person could be held for a few hours before being found not guilty or being bailed out or could never walk free again. This depends on the severity of the crime, duration of the trial, and many other factors. However, the initial period of being held in a local police station or county jail typically ends within 76 hours (three days), due to laws in nearly every state for rights to a speedy trial. This trial determines whether or not the person will be convicted and whether or not they are eligible for any type of bail.

How Long Can a Non-Arrested Person Be Held by Law Enforcement?

When no formal arrest has been made, the law in most states provides that law enforcement officers can detain a suspect long enough to carry out an investigation, but no longer if no arrest is made. By this logic, an individual can only legally be stopped for a few minutes for a minor speeding ticket, but can be stopped for much longer if the officer believes he or she is carrying drugs. Writing a ticket only takes five to ten minutes, while calling in backup for a drug search could take hours. If the officer has appropriate reason to carry out this search, it is perfectly legal for them to detain the suspect long enough to complete it.

However, once the reasonable window of investigation is over, it becomes increasingly less clear whether the officer has grounds to hold the individual if they have not been arrested. Technically, the time should not be drawn out more than a few hours for minor offenses. If the individual is being held under suspicion of a more serious crime, then being held for questioning for up to four hours is permissible.

The actual duration of questioning cannot exceed four hours (because times exceeding this amount could be considered an abusive questioning tactic), but the period of holding may be longer to accommodate it. The individual may even be held overnight. If no arrest has been made, it would be unusual and potentially unlawful for the person to be held much longer than eight hours.

How Scharff Law Firm Can Help

The attorneys at Scharff Law firm have the skills to help accused or arrested persons in many areas of criminal defense. Some of these include:

  • Our attorneys have a combined 20+ years experience in law.
  • Our staff focuses exclusively on criminal defense.
  • Our attorneys take some cases on a contingent basis and offer discounted rates for minor crimes, such as possession of marijuana.

If you or a loved one has been impacted by arrest or wrongful conviction, legal counsel can help. Though the situation is never easy, the right legal team can make all the difference. The attorneys at Scharff Law Firm have the expertise in criminal law to determine the best next move in your situation, and to help you fight for freedom. Contact us today for a free consultation of your case.