How Long Can Someone be Kept in Jail Without Formal Charges?
Getting arrested can be bewildering and stressful. Once in custody, how long can the government detain someone without notifying them of the charges? The answer is, not very long.
The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution grants a person accused of a crime the right “to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation.” This right has been part of English and American law for more that 800 years, since before the Magna Carta in 1215.
In Maryland, when a person is arrested they will have an Initial Appearance before a District Court Commissioner within 24 hours. At that appearance, the Commissioner will state each offense being charged and the possible penalties. The person accused will be provided with a copy charging document.
The Commissioner will also decide whether to release the person depending on the nature of the charges.
Because a person's liberty is at stake, they have the RIGHT TO AN ATTORNEY at the Initial Appearance. That right should always be asserted and never waived. If a person can’t afford an attorney, one will be appointed.
So remember, if ever arrested, your first and only words should be: “I want a lawyer.” Say no more and no less in order to protect yourself.
We are dedicated to advancing and protecting your rights.