Those who have been arrested in Tennessee cannot be held indefinitely without being charged with a crime. The United States Constitution gives those in the criminal justice system certain rights that cannot be violated. One of these rights is that prosecutors must inform suspects in a timely manner the crime with which they are being charged.
The Sixth Amendment guarantees criminal defendants the right to a fair and speedy trial. When prosecutors delay in informing suspects of their charges, it hampers their ability to mount their best defense to the charges. It may also result in them receiving what is effectively a long prison sentence before they have even been convicted of a crime. Accordingly, the framework in most states is that prosecutors have 72 hours after the arrest to charge the suspect with a crime. Individuals must then be arraigned in court where they are told of their criminal charges. Prosecutors are always free to revise the charges after arraignment, and they are not bound to the initial set of criminal charges as they learn more about the evidence in the case.
If the suspect has not been charged in a timely manner, they can file a writ of habeas corpus with the court. If the judge finds that the person is being unlawfully held, they may order that he or she be released.
Those who have been arrested may want to immediately consult with a criminal defense attorney. Being subjected to the criminal justice system is stressful for any defendant. The system is not easy to navigate on one’s own, so it may be beneficial to have the services of a lawyer who is familiar with the law. The attorney may be able to help negotiate a plea bargain to settle the charges in the case and help the defendant move on with their life.