How Long Can You Be Held Without Charges?

Being arrested can cause a great deal of stress, anxiety, and uncertainty. You wonder how long you’ll be kept and what charges might await you.

But what if the police arrest you without a warrant? If the police don’t immediately issue charges, you may not be clear about why you’re being kept in custody at all. In that case, you may worry about how long you’ll be held until the police release you or press charges. 

To arrest a citizen, police need to have probable cause. They don’t necessarily need to issue criminal charges or have an arrest warrant. But there is a limit to how long they can keep you.

In Canada, a person can be kept in custody for up to 24 hours without a warrant before charges must be laid. Some circumstances might require an extension, like if the arrest occurs on a weekend or holiday. Ultimately, it is up to the judge to decide whether you’ll be released or charged.

If you are arrested, be selective about what information you reveal to the police. It’s been said many times, but anything that you say can be used against you in court. Before speaking with the police, ask to call a criminal lawyer. 

After charges are put forth, your next question might be: what’s the maximum amount of time that can elapse before my trial?

How Long Will I Wait Until a Trial?

Once charges are issued and you decide to take the case through to a trial, the proceedings must be relatively prompt.

Many criminal cases are notorious for being long and drawn-out. But there is legislation in place that’s designed to prevent this from happening. You may be familiar with the constitution in the USA regarding the right to a speedy trial. In Canada, this is known as a right to a trial within a reasonable timeframe.

Being held for an indefinite period goes against the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms; it ignores the rights of the person in custody. That’s why this legislation was introduced. However, there are allowances made for exceptional circumstances (such as a global pandemic). 

In 2016, this legislation was introduced following a case known as R v Jordan. It replaced the existing laws with updated guidelines. This recent ruling specifies that a maximum of 18 months can elapse between the time that charges are laid and the trial takes place. In some cases, a maximum of 30 months will be granted. This framework is designed to respect the rights of the accused person and grant them a trial in a reasonable amount of time.

Even if you are released from custody without charges, you will receive an arrest record. This can cause issues with employment and housing arrangements. Working with a defence lawyer can help you receive the justice that you’re entitled to.

If your right to a reasonably-timed trial is being infringed upon, contact a criminal defence lawyer in Winnipeg. When you call Brodsky Amy & Gould, you’ll work with an experienced lawyer who’s dedicated to your case.