Switch to ADA Accessible Theme
Close Menu
Atlanta Criminal Defense Lawyers > Blog > Criminal Defense > How Long Can You Be Detained by Police?

How Long Can You Be Detained by Police?


Being detained by the police can be a stressful and frightening experience for anyone. Whether you were at the wrong place and the wrong time or were suspected of committing a crime, it can leave you feeling helpless and vulnerable. One question that arises in such situations is, how long can the police detain you?

If you were detained by police, our lawyers at Hawkins Spizman Trial Lawyers can help you understand how long you can be held in custody and what you can do to protect your constitutional rights. Reach out to our Fulton County criminal lawyers if you or your loved one was detained by police.

Investigative vs. Punitive Detention

First, we need to understand the different types of detentions. There are two main types of detentions: investigative and punitive. Investigative detention is when the police officer detains someone for a brief period to investigate a suspected crime. Punitive detention, on the other hand, is when the police detain someone as a punishment for committing a crime. The time period for each type of detention varies.

It is important to note that during any type of detention, you have certain rights. These rights include the right to remain silent, the right to an attorney, the right to be free from physical abuse, and the right to medical care if required. If any of these rights are violated, you have the right to file a complaint or legal suit.

How Long Can the Police Detain You in Investigative Detention?

In the case of investigative detention, the police cannot detain someone indefinitely. The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution requires the police to have a valid reason to detain someone and to release them as soon as their investigation is complete or if they find no reason to hold them. In warrantless arrests, the police can detain someone for up to 48 hours without charging them with a crime under Georgia law (O.C.G.A § 17-4-62).

How Long Can the Police Detain You in Punitive Detention?

In the case of punitive detention, the police can hold someone until their arraignment, which is the first court appearance after being charged with a crime. The arraignment must be held within 48 hours, excluding weekends and holidays. After the arraignment, the amount of time someone can be detained is dependent on the type of crime committed, their criminal history, and the evidence against them.

What to Do if You Were Detained by Police?

There are certain steps to follow when you are detained by police.

1. Remain calm and polite

The first thing you should do if you are detained by the police is to remain calm. Getting agitated or angry will only escalate the situation and could result in the police using force against you. Be respectful and polite with the police officers while keeping in mind that you have the right to remain silent.

2. Ask the reason for your detention

It is your right to know the reason for your detention. Even if the police do not provide this information right away, ask politely. This will help you understand what you are being accused of and what to expect next. Also, ask if you are under arrest or if you are free to leave.

3. Exercise your right to remain silent

You have the right to remain silent, and we highly recommend that you use it. Anything you say can be used against you, so it is better to stay quiet and not incriminate yourself. You can give your name and address if asked but do not answer any other questions until you have spoken to an attorney.

4. Get an attorney

If you are detained by the police, it is crucial to get an attorney as soon as possible. You can request a lawyer during an interrogation, and the police must stop questioning you until you have legal representation. It is best to have an attorney present during any interaction with law enforcement.

5. Record the details of the detention

Write down everything you remember about the detention, including the time, location, name of the officer(s), and the reason given for the detention. This information may be useful later if you decide to file a complaint or take legal action.

Detained by Police? Contact Hawkins Spizman Trial Lawyers

There are time limits for detainment that the police must follow after detaining individuals. Knowing these limits will help you understand your rights and stay prepared in such situations. If you were detained by the police, it is always advisable to seek legal counsel and protect your rights. Our lawyers at Hawkins Spizman Trial Lawyers handle criminal cases throughout Georgia, including Fulton County, Cobb County, and Gwinnett County, as well as Johns Creek, Sandy Springs, Atlanta, Alpharetta, and Dunwoody. Call 770-685-6400 for a free case evaluation.

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn