How Long After Arrest Can You Be Charged (And Why)?

Exact Answer: Within 48 – 72 hours

If someone is either seen committing a crime or is suspected to be committing a crime, then they’ll be arrested and taken into custody. The suspect may be arrested by the police or other officers who are a part of the criminal justice system of that country.



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In addition, places like England and Wales grant citizens the power to arrest someone provided that there is a good reason behind the arrest, and if they can provide evidence.

After being arrested, a thorough investigation will probably be conducted, along with questioning. The next stage is the charging of crime, with respect to the evidence that is provided.

How Long After Arrest Can You Be Charged

How Long After Arrest Can You Be Charged?

State of arrestTime after the arrest when you’re charged
In custodyWithin 48 – 72 hours
Not in custodyDays, weeks, months, etc.

Being arrested means that you’re being apprehended and taken into custody, which is essentially being offered legal control or protection. An arrest can only be made if the person has either been seen engaging in a crime or has been suspected of committing the crime.

An arrest can be made by a law enforcement officer. They exercise their legal authority over the suspect to restrict their freedom of movement. Note that they will only be able to go forward with an arrest if they have probable cause. Probable cause is not just a suspicion, but it is an inkling that the suspect is guilty, depending on all the information that they’ve gathered to support their suspicion.

Normally, an arrest needs an arrest warrant in order to take place. Judges issue an arrest warrant only when there is sufficient probable cause. If a police officer is making an arrest without a warrant, then they will have to prove that it was necessary to arrest them, on top of having probable cause.

Being charged with a crime is when the law presents an official allegation against you. Prosecutors go through and review the evidence and reports that are submitted regarding the arrest case. Then, if they do find the crime, that they charge the suspect.

This is usually done using a grand jury, which is a group of citizens who are unbiased and just. After listening to the presented evidence, the grand jury decides that the suspect has committed a crime, base on probable cause.

If the suspect is taken into custody after their arrest, then prosecutors usually have within 48 – 72 hours to charge the suspect.

If the suspect is not into custody, then it may take days, weeks, or even months for prosecutors to charge the suspect.

Why Does It Take That Long To Be Charged After Getting Arrested?

After an arrest, the law enforcement officers submit their investigations in the form of reports. This evidence is submitted to prosecutors, so they can review it to make a judgment. Once prosecutors review all the evidence, they decide on the criminal charges that they are filing against the suspect in question. They present these charges in a document, that is filed in court. These documents that are used to charge the suspect are known as ‘indictments’, ‘complaints’, or ‘information’.

This evidence is presented to the grand jury, who concludes, with respect to the evidence, that the suspect has committed the crime. Only then is the suspect indicted.

After the suspect is indicted, then they will have to attend the initial hearing for the case. The initial hearing allows the defendants to learn about the charges that are filed against them and their rights. The court may also hear out the defendant’s plea, decide on what custody status to offer the defendant, hire a public defender for the defendant if they can’t afford an attorney, and decide on future court hearing dates.

The next step is discovery, where both prosecutors and defendants learn more about the opposite party’s case. This includes evidence like police reports, witness statements, videos, photos, and anything that could contribute to the case.

Next is a plea bargain. Here, the defendant and prosecution agree to conclude the case without having to go to trial.

A preliminary hearing is necessary if the defendants do not plead guilty. The prosecution essentially presents evidence, in order to persuade the judge into believing that the case has probable cause. If the judge agrees, then the court holds a trial.

In a trial, prosecutors submit all the evidence that has been collected. In addition, the other party will also be able to present their evidence. After further cross-examination by the jury, they usually reach a verdict.

If the defendant is found to be guilty, the court sentences a particular punishment for the defendant, according to the crime.

If the defendant wishes to change their sentence or the court to reevaluate the case, then they may apply for an appeal.

It takes the prosecutors at least 48 – 72 hours after an arrest to file charges because they must collect and review all the evidence, and prepare the charging document for the court to review.


After being arrested, the suspect will have two rights. The first right is the right to remain silent and the second right is the right to talk to an attorney. The right to consult an attorney is always more powerful.

So if you are being criminally charged, it is advised to immediately consult an attorney who is experienced in criminal defense. Thus, the attorney can skillfully and effectively explain the court procedures that are respective to your jurisdiction, so you can figure out your next step.

If it is revealed that you have been falsely arrested, then both the private citizens and the police in charge will be held responsible. The police may be sued for the victim for monetary damages as part of a civil rights lawsuit.


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