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How Long Can the Police Keep You in Jail after an Arrest?

Criminal Defense Lawyer St. Petersburg Florida

Once you’re arrested, you’re probably anxious for release. After all, meeting with an attorney, finding witnesses, piecing together your alibi, and generally building a defense is much harder when you’re sitting in jail. Fortunately, Florida can’t keep you in custody too long after arresting you.

The Court Must Arraign You Within 24 Hours

After police arrest you, they will book you at the police station and take your picture. Eventually, you will appear before a judge for an arraignment, where the court will read the charges against you. In Florida, your arraignment must typically take place within 24 hours.

The charges that the court read against you at the arraignment aren’t set in stone. As the police uncover more facts during their investigation, the prosecutor can bring additional charges or drop current ones. However, the prosecutor definitely needs to charge you with something, otherwise, the court or police will release you.

At the arraignment, you will enter your plea. You have three options to choose from: guilty, no contest, and not guilty.

  • With a guilty plea, you admit you broke the law and are prepared to accept the punishment
  • With a no contest plea, you don’t admit you broke the law though you do ask the court to administer punishment as if you had
  • With a not guilty plea, you claim the charges against you aren’t true and ask for a trial date

Getting Bail

You also can argue for bail at your arraignment, which will allow your release from jail pending trial. A successful bail argument must convince a judge that you aren’t a flight risk. A court will consider the following factors as part of its analysis:

  • The nature of the offense—for example, whether the state is accusing you of a violent felony or a non-violent crime.
  • The danger you pose to society (if any).
  • The weight of the evidence against you. Is the case strong or weak?
  • Your ties to the community, including your relationship with your family and how long you have lived in the community.
  • Whether you have a job.
  • Your prior criminal history, including whether you ever failed to appear at court or fled to avoid prosecution.
  • The likelihood that you will endanger or intimidate victims or witnesses.

No one factor controls this scenario. Instead, a judge will review all relevant facts. Bail ensures your attendance at future court proceedings, and you’ll post money, property, or a bond. If you fail to show up, then you forfeit your bail.

Contact a St. Petersburg Criminal Law Attorney Today

Getting arrested can overwhelm you, and many people don’t know where to turn. At Khonsari Law Group, we have years of experience navigating the Florida criminal justice system and have represented countless clients at arraignment hearings. Call us today for a free consultation at (727) 269-5300 or fill out our online contact form.

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