How long police can hold you

On Behalf of | Apr 3, 2024 | Civil Rights Violations |

In New Jersey, the law sets specific limits on how long law enforcement can detain an individual before they must either charge them with a crime or release them. This rule stems from the fundamental rights guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution, specifically the Fourth Amendment. This incredibly important Amendment protects individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures.

The principles governing detainment durations maintain the balance between the needs of law enforcement to investigate crimes and the individual’s right to freedom. It provides a framework for understanding the legal situation and what to expect next.

The 72-hour rule

The general rule is that law enforcement can hold an individual for up to 72 hours before the law requires that they either charge the person with a crime or release them. This 72-hour period is important for the police as they gather enough evidence to justify the charges. It is a timeframe designed to balance the need for a thorough investigation with the detainee’s rights.

Exceptions and extensions

While the 72-hour rule provides a baseline, certain exceptions can extend this period. For instance, if the investigation is complex and requires more time to gather evidence, law enforcement might request an extension from a judge. However, such extensions are not automatic and require judicial approval to justify the extended detainment.

Understanding how long the police can hold someone before charging them with a crime is fundamental to navigating the legal system and protecting one’s rights. These rules serve as a safeguard against unreasonable detainment.


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