Any encounter with police is an opportunity for the violation of your rights. However, if officers arrest you, you face a new level of concern for your future. An arrest can be a frightening and confusing event, and everything around you may seem very strange and surreal. While it may be easy to become overwhelmed, it is important to understand what is happening and what you can expect.
Perhaps the most important thing on your mind is when police will release you from jail. If authorities have not charged you, the clock is ticking. They cannot hold you forever without formally charging you with a crime, and you should be aware that your Constitutional rights may be on the line.
Your right to a speedy trial
The time you spend in jail after your arrest is the time prosecutors use to gather evidence and decide what charges, if any, to file against you. It is a busy time for investigators, but your main concerns may include your personal safety, the welfare of your family and whether you will still have a job when this madness is over.
The Constitution protects your right to a speedy trial, and part of that protection involves the length of time you remain in jail after your arrest and before your trail. While it may seem like an eternity, officials have a limited amount of time, usually 72 hours, to decide whether to charge you and whether they have enough evidence to take to court and convince a jury. A speedy trial is critical in criminal matters because of the following:
- Since you have not been convicted, you should not have to spend an unreasonable amount of time behind bars.
- Waiting for your trial is stressful, and a long pre-trail incarceration can unnecessarily exacerbate that anxiety.
- As time passes, evidence you may use to defend yourself may suffer damage, such as the memory of witnesses.
If authorities detain you without formal charges longer than Colorado law allows, you have options for pursuing a resolution. For example, your attorney can file a writ of habeas corpus that asks the court to compel police to present your case to the judge for a decision about whether they are holding you lawfully. Because so much is on the line, it is wise to seek the counsel of a dedicated and focused attorney who will be fully prepared to defend your rights.