How long can the police detain me?

On Behalf of | Sep 17, 2021 | Firm News

The sound of sirens and the sight of flashing lights are strong indicators that a police officer is approaching and wants to pull you over. It is not a situation you are looking forward to, but you decide to pull over and comply with the police. You may not know, however, that the police have a limited time to detain you.

The police should not keep you at the scene for a long period. FlexYourRights.org explains that an officer should only detain you for as long as it takes to complete an investigation.

Factors that affect detention

If a police officer stops you for a traffic offense like speeding, the officer should only take the amount of time needed to investigate your situation, including looking at your paperwork and writing you a ticket if necessary. After this, the officer should let you go.

This may change if the officer discovers evidence of another crime. Sometimes the police will claim a right to search a car if they see evidence in plain view, meaning they see criminal evidence through a vehicle window. This could prolong your detention and may even lead to an arrest.

Asking to leave detention

You do not want your detention to last longer than it needs to. If you get the feeling that the officer has done everything necessary in regards to the stop, you may ask if you are free to go. Asking is important because if you say nothing and the prolonged detention leads to an arrest, a court may consider your detention to be voluntary. However, if the officer says you may leave, it is up to you to depart the scene.

Some police detentions can be illegal. If you incur criminal charges from detention that were not reasonable, you could challenge the detention as unlawful. It will depend on the circumstances of your encounter with the police.

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