How Long Can I Be Held in Custody by Arizona Law Enforcement?

Lerner & Rowe Law Group
held in custody by Arizona police

Often after someone is arrested in Arizona, the next step involves being taken into custody by law enforcement. How long a person will remain in police custody depends on if and when authorities charge them with a crime. At this point, you can be arrested but not charged, a situation which presents something of a legal grey area for both the person in custody and law enforcement.

To prevent police from unfairly holding a person in custody for excessive periods of time, Arizona law states that a person suspected of a crime must be released from custody within 48 hours unless formal charges have been filed within that time. 

Questioned, Detained, Or Under Arrest?

When facing possible criminal charges, it’s important to understand the difference between being questioned, detained, or arrested. Encounters with law enforcement can be overwhelming and scary, especially when you’re not sure what’s happening or how to exercise your rights. Find out more about what to do if you’ve been taken in for questioning, detained, or arrested by Arizona police from the criminal defense lawyers at Lerner and Rowe Law Group. 

What Are My Rights If The Police Question Me?

It is important to note that whether you’re being questioned, detained, or arrested, you are never under any obligation to answer law enforcement’s questions. The only information you are required to provide is your name and address if an officer asks you to identify yourself (or if you’ve been pulled over, your driver’s license, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance).

If a member of law enforcement asks you to answer some questions, you’re under no obligation to comply with their request. You should verbally invoke your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent as well as your Sixth Amendment right to legal counsel from an attorney. These are commonly referred to as your Miranda rights.

At this point, you should ask the law enforcement officer if you are free to leave. If they say yes, you should do so promptly and contact a criminal defense attorney for further legal advice.

What Are My Rights If I’m Detained by Law Enforcement?

held in custody by law enforcement

If the officer has reasonable suspicion—that is, any reasonable person would suspect that a crime was being committed, had been committed, or was going to be committed—you may be detained. If you ask an officer if you are free to leave and they say no, you should then ask if you are being detained or are under arrest. 

Being detained is by definition a “brief and cursory” investigation. During this time, police may perform a brief frisk or pat-down for weapons, but they cannot search you or your vehicle without your consent unless they already have a search or arrest warrant or have probable cause and not just reasonable suspicion. You have the right to see a search warrant before submitting to a search.

If, in the course of their brief investigation, law enforcement discovers probable cause that you have committed, are committing, or were about to commit a crime, the detention may then proceed into an arrest and in some circumstances you or your vehicle may be searched. 

Note: While refusal to cooperate is not sufficient evidence for reasonable suspicion, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that running away from police after seeing them in a “high crime area” is sufficient to justify a stop and frisk. 

What Are My Rights If I’m Arrested by Arizona Police?

If police confirm that you are not free to leave and that you are in fact under arrest, you have the right to ask why the arrest is being made. You are still not legally required to answer any further questions, and should ask for an attorney immediately. 

If you have been arrested—even if you believe police misconduct has been involved—it is crucial that you remain calm, nonviolent, and respectful to officers as you assert your rights. This does not mean you have to answer any questions, even once you are in custody. Make sure you state out loud that you are exercising your right to remain silent and clearly and unequivocally say “I want a lawyer.”. 

Read more about your constitutional rights in criminal cases.

What Happens After You’re Arrested in Arizona?

Having a general idea of what to expect after you’ve been arrested in Arizona can help ease some of your anxieties about the legal processes involved. See below for a basic outline of what happens once you’re held in custody by law enforcement.

held in custody by Arizona police
  1. If placed under arrest, you’ll be asked for additional identifying information, such as your birthdate and residential address.
  2. Police will search and confiscate your personal effects. 
  3. You will be photographed and have your fingerprints recorded.
  4. Police will investigate any prior criminal history.
  5. Depending on the crime, you may be asked to stand in a line-up for identification purposes by a witness or provide a handwriting sample. You can choose not to submit to these requests, and should consult a lawyer before doing so.
  6. The case Information is then given to a prosecutor, who must decide whether or not to file charges against you within 48 hours if you are being held in custody..
  7. If charges are not filed, you should be released from custody. You can still be arrested and or sent a summons if criminal charges are filed in the future within the statute of limitations.
  8. If charges are filed, you’ll make an appearance at your arraignment or initial appearance where  you or your lawyer will be asked to enter a plea and a court will set release conditions.
  9. Pending trial, you can be released to your own recognizance, to pretrial services, or be required to pay  the court a fixed amount of money called bail that is returned to you as long as you don’t miss your court appearance.

Note: if you are held for more than several hours or overnight before being booked, you or an Arizona criminal appeals lawyer may be able to request a writ of habeas corpus, which requires police to bring you to court in order to confirm that you’re being lawfully held.

Arrested in Arizona? Lerner and Rowe Law Group Can Help

If you’ve been arrested or charged with a crime in Arizona, contacting an experienced criminal defense attorney can mean the difference between a conviction and freedom or probation and a lengthy prison sentence. At Lerner and Rowe Law Group, your initial consultation is always free and confidential. Our exemplary legal team will review the details of your case at no charge and with no obligation to hire us. 

Even if you were released from police custody with no charges filed, an arrest and mugshot can remain accessible to employers and other parties conducting a background check online. With help from your criminal defense team, you have a better chance of getting those arrest records set aside and protecting your reputation.

Contact one of our Arizona offices today 24/7 by calling 602-667-7777 (Phoenix) or 520-620-6200 (Tucson). We offer affordable payment plans to make getting the legal help you need accessible. You can also connect with us online via LiveChat, or submit your case details for a confidential review by filling out this form.

The information on this blog is for general information purposes only. Nothing herein should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.