After being arrested, most people believe that they have been formally charged with a crime. However, this is not true. Although police officers have the ability to place a person under arrest, they do not have the power to formally file criminal charges against an individual. This power rests in the hands of the District Attorney’s Office, the office responsible for arguing the criminal case against a suspect. However, after reviewing the information and evidence presented to them by the police officers, sometimes the District Attorney’s Office will decide that there is not information and evidence available to file formal criminal charges. When this happens, the suspect is released. But based on this, how long can you be held by police while the District Attorney’s Office is deciding whether to file charges?
The 6th Amendment
Under the 6th Amendment, the Constitution guarantees that the accused has the right to a speedy trial. This means that an individual must not be faced with an undue delay between the arrest and the judicial process. In order not to violate this Constitutional right, each individual state has mandated that a prosecutor must file formal criminal charges within a certain time period, typically between 48 and 72 hours, otherwise the individual must be let go. In North Carolina, the maximum amount of time a prosecutor can wait is 48 hours. After that, the suspect must be set free. However, if there are extraordinary circumstances present, the prosecutor may ask a judge for more time to bring charges. However, this request must be based on good cause on the part of the prosecutor.
Following the filing of formal criminal charges against a suspect, an arraignment hearing will take place. At this hearing, the suspect will be informed of the charges against him, initial pleas given, and a bond set. Generally, these hearings are conducted as soon as possible following the filing of charges. However, North Carolina only requires that the arraignment take place within 48 hours of the charges being filed. After the arraignment is complete, if the suspect is given a bond or bail and the suspect posts that bond or bail, the suspect is free to leave.
If you or someone you know have been charged with a crime, it is important to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney that can help zealously defend your case. Contact Us at Minick Law, P.C. for a free consultation on your case.