The U.S. Constitution says anyone who is charged with a crime is guaranteed a speedy trial. However, the Constitution does not say how long a person could be held in jail without being charged with a crime. Typically, those who are taken into custody in Virginia and most other states will either be charged or released within 72 hours of being placed in jail.
If an individual is not charged within 72 hours, it may be possible to ask a judge to determine if that person can still be held. During this period of time, a prosecutor will review a case to determine if there is enough evidence to charge an individual with a crime. If a person is charged with a crime, those charges could be upgraded or otherwise amended in the event that new evidence is uncovered.
An individual will typically need to be released immediately if a prosecutor decides not to pursue the case. This helps to ensure that people who aren’t suspected of committing crimes don’t experience significant interruptions to their lives. Requiring them to be charged and tried in a timely manner also ensures that a defendant has an opportunity to put forward an adequate defense.
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An experienced criminal law attorney may be able to preserve the rights of a person who has not been charged with the commission of a crime in a timely manner. An attorney may also be able to help a person obtain his or her release on bail if charges are ultimately filed.