How Long Do the Police Have to File Drug Charges?

How Long Do the Police Have to File Drug Charges?

How Long Do the Police Have to File Drug Charges?

If you are arrested on suspicion of having committed a drug crime, you might be wondering how long until authorities have to charge you or let the case go. Different statutes of limitations apply to various alleged offenses. If an individual is in custody after a drug-related arrest, prosecutors have a limited window of time to get charges filed.

If you are being investigated for an alleged drug offense, or have been arrested but not charged, you should speak with a reliable drug defense lawyer right away to make sure your legal rights are not on the line. An attorney can sometimes prevent charges from ever being filed or negotiate to get them reduced.

Important Steps After a Drug Arrest

After being arrested for an alleged drug offense, the clock starts ticking for both police and prosecutors to complete certain procedures. Failure to adhere to any of these procedural rules would not only represent a serious violation of the rights of the accused but could derail subsequent efforts to bring forward a criminal case.

When an individual is arrested for a drug-related offense and is held in custody, Florida law requires that they be brought before a judge within 24 hours. An attorney can represent the accused at this first court appearance, and sometimes get pending charges dropped at this very early stage. Should the judge affirm that there was probable cause for the underlying arrest, depending on the severity and nature of the alleged drug offense, the individual could be released with or without bail.

How Long Can Someone Be Held Without Charges?

In situations where the accused is arrested for a drug offense and remains in custody, the Florida Attorney General typically has just 30 days to file formal felony or misdemeanor charges. If this period passes without an indictment occurring, the accused must be released from police custody on day 33.

In very specific cases, the law allows for the accused to remain in custody without charges for up to 40 days from the arrest if the state attorney’s office can show just cause. If the accused is still not formally charged at this point, the law requires they be released by day 40.

After someone is arrested and charged with a drug felony, the law requires that they be brought to a speedy trial within 175 days. The timeline is shorter for misdemeanor drug offenses, and a trial must be commenced in these cases no more than 90 days from the arrest.

The Timeline to File Drug Charges

Police and prosecutors who are investigating alleged drug crimes have maximum windows of time in which they can file criminal charges or forfeit the right to do so. These window of time are known as a statute of limitations.

There are a narrow list of offenses for which there is no statute of limitations, which means that prosecutors can charge the alleged offender at any time after the act in question. Depending on whether you are arrested for an alleged drug crime that qualifies as a misdemeanor or felony, prosecutors usually take up to a few years or longer to file criminal charges after a police investigation starts.

For example, drug possession in Florida can range from a first-degree misdemeanor offense to a first-degree felony offense. For crimes classified as first-degree misdemeanors, authorities typically have no more than two years to file formal charges.

On the other hand, prosecutors investigating first-degree felony drug crimes have up to four years to file charges. Other felony drug charges typically carry a three-year statute of limitations.

Get Help From an Attorney if Florida Police Are Filing Drug Charges

Any drug offense could see you spend time in jail and have to pay notable financial penalties in the event of a conviction. Even if the state attorney’s office has not filed formal charges, an attorney can step in and work tirelessly to safeguard your legal rights.

An attorney can conduct their own investigation into an alleged drug offense and advise what legal strategies may be at your disposal to reduce the legal consequences involved. If you have questions about protecting your legal rights or if you believe you have been subjected to unlawful detention, do not hesitate to contact our office today.

A committed criminal defense attorney can evaluate your case in a confidential legal consultation and explain your next steps.

How Long Do the Police Have to File Drug Charges?