Individuals may be taken into custody before they are formally charged with a crime. As a general rule, those who are held in Georgia jails or others throughout the country must be charged or released within 72 hours of their arrival. During that time period, a prosecutor will review the evidence in a case and determine if he or she agrees with the proposed charges against an individual. In some cases, the charges will be amended as new evidence becomes available.
If a prosecutor fails to take action within a timely manner, it may be possible for an individual to submit a writ of habeas corpus. This allows a person to be brought before a judge to determine if that individual is being held in a lawful manner. If not, the judge may order an individual to be released.
Even after a person is charged with a crime, he or she has the right to a speedy trial. This is designed to minimize the amount of time a person spends anticipating the potentially negative consequences of a conviction. It can also minimize the amount of time the media can publicize a person’s actions. In addition, defendants may have a diminished ability to defend themselves if a trial takes place months or years after they were charged with a crime.
An individual who is charged with a crime is generally entitled to the assistance of a criminal defense attorney. The attorney may be able to cast doubt on evidence used to charge a person of drunk driving, drug possession or other crimes. If an individual is not formally charged in a timely manner, an attorney may be able to secure his or her freedom. Failing to charge a person in a timely manner might get a matter dismissed.