In Texas, the criminal justice system must begin to operate soon after a suspect is arrested. This means that person must be charged and arraigned shortly after the time they are apprehended. Generally, the outer limit on this time is 72 hours in order to respect the person’s rights.
The Sixth Amendment is what guarantees defendants their rights in a criminal trial. These rights do not wait until they are actually on trial to become effective. Instead, constitutional rights are applicable the moment that someone is arrested. Prosecutors are not allowed to hold someone indefinitely after they have been arrested. Generally, someone must be tried and convicted before they can receive a long jail term. Delaying the charges is the same thing as effectively sentencing them to jail without a conviction. In addition, keeping the suspect without charging them hampers their ability to receive a fair trial by delaying the time that they can start defending themselves.
Individuals who find themselves in a position where they are being held indefinitely may file a writ of habeas corpus with the court. This seeks to persuade the judge that the suspect is being held unlawfully. If the judge sides with the defendant, the court may order their release. Prosecutors are generally aware of these timelines and arraign the suspect promptly.
Those who have been arrested may want to immediately contact a criminal defense attorney for help with the process. The criminal justice system can be a scary place for those who are caught up in it, even if it is not the first time that they have faced charges. The attorney may monitor the proceedings to make sure that their client’s rights are being respected at every step of the way and work to take action if they are not.