1. U.G. Ridley

    U.G. Ridley I'm a wizard, Hagrid

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    When are you legally allowed to leave when being questioned by police?

    Discussion in 'Research' started by U.G. Ridley, Nov 6, 2016.

    My current project revolves somewhat around a kidnapping case, and where I'm at right now the wife of the suspect is being questioned by police. At what point would she be legally allowed to leave the police station in that case?
     
  2. cydney

    cydney Banned

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    Gosh! I don't know! My record is clean! :)
     
  3. Lea`Brooks

    Lea`Brooks Contributor Contributor

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    In the US, police aren't allowed to hold a suspect for longer than 24 hours if they haven't been charged with a crime.
     
  4. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    It's 72 hours without charging you, not 24. But you do not have to talk to them and you have a right to a lawyer.
     
  5. NoGoodNobu

    NoGoodNobu Contributor Contributor

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    That's generally when you are arrested; the prosecutor is the one who determines the charges against you

    If they do not file charges within 48-72 hours, you are free to go (I actually just went with the previous comments time of 24, but it does seem 48 is the shortest depending on the state, for instance California)

    However, police are only allowed to detain you a reasonable time depending on the investigation. For instance, for a traffic violation—the length for gathering your identification and issuing a ticket, etc.

    If you are not under arrest, you generally are free to leave. This is a right most people don't realize, but if it simply detention for question in an investigation of a crime, you simply ask if you are under arrest and if you can leave, and then you leave. It's considered a voluntary detention if you do not ask to leave and anything they gather from it is legal.

    Disclosure of rights by the police generally only apply to charges and arrests, not for investigations. They don't have to share if you don't ask.

    Basically it's best to refuse questioning and obtain an attorney to notify you of and to protect your rights
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2016
  6. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    You should probably be sure you understand the differences between detention, arrest, and charges. (You should also check you jurisdiction. I have no idea what the rules are in Norway. Assuming you're writing a story set in the US...)

    Detention - cops have a reason to stop you and briefly question you. They generally need to have a justifiable reason to be suspicious of you (Walking While Black should not be all they've got) but this is somewhat fudge-able. "Briefly" might mean up to about 20 minutes.

    Arrest - if the police have probable cause to believe you've committed a crime, they can arrest you. You're deemed to be arrested any time a reasonable person would believe they weren't allowed to leave. This is when all the Miranda warnings kick in for the US. Your character wouldn't be allowed to leave the police station, but she'd be allowed to call a lawyer, and that lawyer would raise a mighty stink if the police didn't have probable cause for holding her.

    Charged - up to now it's been police stuff, but it's the prosecuting attorney who handles charges. The amount of time you can be held without charges varies based on US jurisdiction - some states say 48 hours, others 72. I don't think there are any that are as short as 24... This is the stage when someone would plead guilty or not, have bail set (or not), etc.

    So your character might not be able to leave the police station for 72 hours, but they certainly couldn't question her for all that time and they'd need to have probable cause before they could hold her at all.
     
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  7. U.G. Ridley

    U.G. Ridley I'm a wizard, Hagrid

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    Well, in my case it's just the wife of a suspect who is asked questions. She herself hasn't done anything, and the police have no reason to believe so either. The suspect and victim is missing so they're asking the wife if she knows anything. Do any of these apply then?
     
  8. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    If they have no reason to believe she's involved in the crime, they'd have no grounds for arresting her. They can't force her to stay at the station, or go to the station in the first place.

    But it's one of those situations where I assume they'd expect her to cooperate, just... because. So they couldn't force her to cooperate, but if she didn't, I'd expect them to be suspicious of her.

    ETA: If the case made it to court, she might be compelled to testify, and in many jurisdictions there are ways to keep her in custody prior to giving the testimony if the police can prove that she's a flight risk. But I think most jurisdictions have rules that excuse spouses from testifying against each other, so in your situation I think she'd be exempt.
     
  9. U.G. Ridley

    U.G. Ridley I'm a wizard, Hagrid

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    That makes sense, thanks! You guys are helpful as always:D
     
  10. NoGoodNobu

    NoGoodNobu Contributor Contributor

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    There's something called "Spousal Priveledge" or "Spousal Immunity"

    Any private confidences disclosed to one another is protected as privledged cummunication and can't be used in testimonial in either civil or criminal cases in all of the US, but I believe it only pertains to things said during a marriage (not before it or after it, but anything shared during the marriage is permanently protected and either the spouse witness or the spouse defendant can invoke it)

    Only in a few states is there a Spousal Immunity in which an individual cannot be forced to testify against their spouse period. I think this holds true in California. However, they are still able to give voluntary testimonies against their spouses and the defendant cannot invoke it on their own behalf
     
  11. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    Depends on jurisdiction again - OP, where is your story taking place?

    There are quite a few states where the privilege resides with the person being charged rather than the witness, so even if the wife wanted to testify she wouldn't be allowed to.

    We may be getting beyond the needs of the OP, though!
     
  12. U.G. Ridley

    U.G. Ridley I'm a wizard, Hagrid

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    I already got my question answered, so don't worry about having any discussion you'd like;) The story takes place in a fictional American city, as well as a fictional small town that is located close to the city. The city is heavily based off of New York, so I'm trying to model a lot of the nitty gritty in the book from how it is there (with what I'm able to find online).
     

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