There Is an Obligation to Timely Charge Suspects
May 8, 2020
Those who are arrested in Texas must actually become defendants within a reasonable period of time. In other words, they must go from being arrested to charged without delay. This is a right that those apprehended have under the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution. If this right is not honored, the suspect can be ordered to be released by the court.
In most states, the prosecutor will have up to 72 hours to file charges against the suspect. This means that they must be arraigned and informed of the charges that they will face. The prosecutor is not bound by the charges that are announced at the arraignment; they can add or drop charges as more evidence and information becomes apparent. However, the suspect must know what they are facing so that they can mount their strongest legal defense. In addition, the suspect may not be forced to serve a long prison sentence without even being convicted unless certain exceptions apply.
When a suspect has not been charged in a timely matter, their attorney will file something called a writ of habeas corpus with the court. This will seek to have the court find that they are being unlawfully held. If the suspect is successful at this hearing, the judge may order that they be released. In any event, prosecutors should know the outer bounds of time that they have to file charges.
Those who have been arrested may need help to navigate the criminal justice system. The system is stressful for all defendants, especially those who do not have the requisite knowledge to defend themselves. A criminal defense attorney might assist a person in dealing with the prosecutor. There may then be negotiations for a plea deal or a criminal trial if prosecutors are not offering the right deal for the client.