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How long may the police detain someone?

On Behalf of | May 26, 2021 | Criminal Defense

The average citizen might not be aware of their rights when interacting with law enforcement. A traffic stop in Mississippi should not take an unreasonably long time. How does someone know what constitutes “unreasonable,” though? Unfortunately, the person might not know the answer, which leads to a prolonged stop. More significant legal problems may then follow.

Police detainment and their duration

When dealing with a traffic stop, the police may detain the driver for as long as it takes to run a check and issue a citation. However, if the officer sees possible evidence of a crime, he or she may extend the duration. For example, when drug paraphernalia appears visible, the officer might have probable cause to investigate a crime.

However, the officer should not drag the traffic stop out for no reason, hoping to make an arrest. Not liking “how suspicious someone looks” would doubtfully serve as legitimate probable cause. Even if evidence ends up procured, a successful criminal defense may involve suppressing the evidence due to lack of probable cause or an illegal search and seizure.

Sometimes, the police detain people on the street or elsewhere and commence questioning. If the suspect does not ask if he or she is being detained or free to go, the “detainment” might be a voluntary one and could continue for a long time.

Concerns about detainment

Remaining in the presence of the police could lead to making statements that become incriminating evidence. Lack of knowledge about the law and one’s rights may result in a failure to remain silent.

Ultimately, if the police respond that someone is free to go, then the person may leave the scene. Avoiding belligerent behavior when addressing an officer might work in a person’s favor, too.

An attorney representing someone detained by police may review the circumstances of an arrest to determine if any rights were violated. If so, the attorney may bring the matter to the court’s attention.