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This often gets lost in the grand topic of criminal charges and the act of defending those charges, but it is nonetheless an important element to the entire topic: how long can the police hold you for a crime you allegedly committed before they actually charge you?

This specifically relates to the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which grants an accused person the right to a "speedy trial" after he or she has been arrested. No one wants to sit in jail for an extended period while the police consider whether they have the evidence to formally charge someone or not. No -- the police need to make up their minds quickly, and the prosecution must present their case in a timely manner. Otherwise, that accused person deserves to go free.

Still, what does it mean to have a "speedy" trial? What are the hard numbers, the parameters, for a speedy trial? Unfortunately, the Sixth Amendment doesn't explicitly say. However, most states abide by a uniform rule, which is that prosecutors have 72 hours after the accused individual has been arrested to file charges.

This is a very important right for an accused person to invoke, because the longer they are in jail, the more problems it causes for them. It can affect them mentally and emotionally. It can affect their ability to work and, indeed, it could lead to them losing their job.

if you are accused of a crime, you should contact an attorney immediately to ensure that all of your rights are being protected and upheld.

Source: FindLaw, "How Long May Police Hold Suspects Before Charges Must be Filed?," Accessed Nov. 4, 2015

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