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The justice system must file timely charges

When a suspect is arrested in Ohio, the criminal justice system cannot slow down the process. Instead, the prosecutors must make a quick decision about the charges that the defendant will face. This is necessary to respect the defendant’s rights under the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution.

Each state will prescribe an outer limit of time in which the prosecutor must decide whether to press charges and what charges to file against the defendant. In many states, the time period is 72 hours. Law enforcement cannot continue to hold a defendant indefinitely without charging and arraigning them. If the prosecutor fails to file timely charges, the defendant can file a writ of habeas corpus. This will force the court to decide whether the defendant is being lawfully held. The end result could be that the defendant is ordered to be released.

The requirement to be timely charged results from the fact that law enforcement cannot force a defendant to serve a long sentence before they have been convicted of a crime. In addition, delaying the trial can hamper a defendant’s ability to defend themselves in court. For criminal defendants, it is best to know what they are facing sooner rather than later so that they can begin to either mount a legal defense or try to negotiate a plea bargain.

When someone is arrested, the criminal justice system can be intimidating given the stakes that are involved. Hiring a criminal defense attorney may help the defendant navigate the system whereas being left to one’s own devices in court can result in constitutional rights being violated when a person simply does know their legal rights. An attorney may make sure that their client’s rights are respected during the criminal justice process that follows an arrest.